Hate The Word ‘Moist’? There’s A Scientific Reason For That


Go ahead and say it out loud. Moist. Draw it out. Mooooooisssssssssst.

Are you shuddering by now? If so, at least you can take comfort in knowing that you are not alone — and that there is an actual, scientific reason why you hate the word “moist.”

Also, consider this your trigger warning: The word “moist” will be used often in this article.

It’s been known that the word “moist” is one of the English language’s most hated words. As the Inquisitr reported, “moist” was one of the words that topped the list of most hated words in 2012 — along with the words “panties” and “supposably.” And no, that is not a typo.

“Moist” seems to be a pretty extreme offender on the scale of offensive-sounding words. In fact, about 18 percent of people have what is described as a “categorical aversion” to the word “moist.”

And because of a new piece of research, scientists may have figured out why some words are simply uncomfortable for us to hear.

Science explains why the word "moist" is so gross. Science! [Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images News]A cognitive psychologist from Oberlin College by the name of Paul Thibodeau decided to test three different hypotheses to figure out what makes the word “moist” so offensive.

The first hypothesis considered the idea that it is simply the sound of the word “moist” that disgusts people. (Go ahead, say it aloud again, just to test the hypothesis). The second hypothesis considered that it is the word’s connotation that disturb so many. (What pops into your mind when you think of the word “moist,” for example? This is for science!) The last theory wondered if it was the social transmission of the idea that the word is disgusting.

Concentrating only on participants who spoke American English, Thibodeau asked for their opinion of the word “moist” among other words. But the words chosen to compare “moist” with weren’t just randomly selected words. (This is science, after all.) Instead, Thibodeau included words related to bodily functions (such as the words “phlegm” and “puke”), clusters of words related to sex, and words that sounded similar to “moist” (such as “foist” and “hoist”).

The study found that the participants who were disgusted by the word “moist” blamed their aversion on the sound of the word. However, those same participants were not bothered by words like “hoist” or “foist,” suggesting that it is not the actual sound of the word that creates the aversion.

Instead, the people who were classified as being “categorically averse” to the word found words related to bodily fluids also revolting. If they hated the word “moist,” they were not a big fan of the word “phlegm,” either. This suggests that the reason behind aversion to the word “moist” is most likely due to the word’s association with bodily fluids and not the actual phonetic sound it makes.

In addition, the researchers also state that there is very much a social element tied to the aversion of the word. One group of participants were shown a video compilation, done by People magazine, that featured the “sexiest men alive” saying the word “moist” in ways that were purposefully designed to make the viewer uncomfortable and awkward.

If you hate the word “moist,” don’t watch the video. Or if you do hate the word “moist,” watch the video while simultaneously shuddering and crying that “moist” is the grossest word in the history of words.