Tina K. Russell

August 20, 2007

Bad Words

Filed under: language — Tina Russell @ 12:23 pm

The Language Log covers “words we hate.” I really like this piece, because it speaks to me. These aren’t ordinary abhorrent words like “guesstimate” that make you cringe because you happen to have a passing fondness for the English language. These are the ones that you just hate, and you cannot figure out why.

For me, it’s “yummy.” I loathe that word. It makes my skin crawl, and makes me feel violated. If it helps put this in context, I once was harassed using that word. Regardless, I just hate it. It makes me feel consumed and want to kick the user in the face. So, as you can imagine, if it’s on a billboard my task because dishearteningly difficult (tracking down whoever is responsible and kicking him or her in the face).

The other word I strongly dislike is “toes.” Actually, I’m quite happy to read this article, not because I now know I’m not alone (that is good) but to know that I _am_ somewhat alone on this specific word. It’s funny, I have no particular aversion to “moist,” the world that Language Log cites as the most common English “word you hate.” I also have a paticular fondness for “panties,” which Language Log gives as #2 (though “knickers” works as well). “Toes,” however, bugs the hell out of me, to the point where I become physically agitated–very much so–when columnists speak of a company dipping its… tarsals… in the water of some new market or industry. Companies don’t have toes, okay?! Deal with it. Rrrrggghhhh…

So, anyway, I’m happy because now I know this is just a weird quirk of mine (and, I’m sure, others) and not, as I suspected before, a global conspiracy to bug the hell out of me. Perhaps we should make some kind of Firefox word filter extension, not to filter out “dirty words” but words you simply dislike. I’d change “yummy” to “delicious” or something like that. (What bugs me in particular is that “yummy” is fairly vivid for me and used a lot in advertising, and I feel as though advertising chips away at my soul in a most unholy fasihon, and you can imagine this is multiplied when they take over my brain with a word that gets under my skin. Anyway…)

(Speaking of which, writers who use a particularly graphic “euphemism”–I use the term lightly because it’s actually much worse–for “ass-kissing” should be shot on sight. This is a little more literal then the aforementioned “bad words” because I hate it particularly because it’s a graphic and disgusting phrase that attempts to disguise something only mildly vulgar with something incredibly vulgar. It might be better if it weren’t so vivid. Anyway, use of that phrase will put you on Tina’s permament blacklist, which I keep in a pressure-sealed container in my room. You have been warned.)

Some other time I’ll do a list of words and grammatical contortions that I hate out of respect for the English language and for my bleedin’ ears, but for now… what words do you simply dislike, as a reflex, having nothing to do with language or context? I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours…



  1. Should be quite easy. You could probably just slightly modify one of the existing greasemonkey scripts like “uncensor the internet” http://www.ironicsans.com/2007/04/idea_uncensor_the_internet.html

    – A

    Comment by Asa Dotzler — August 20, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  2. The word you’re looking for is dysphemism.

    Comment by Neal Whitman — August 21, 2007 @ 7:07 am

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