As a lover of language, I enjoy knowing people’s favorite - and least favorite - words. I think it’s a telling question to ask and it’s a much more unique conversation starter than asking about someone’s job. There seem to be trends in word preferences and one of the most maligned words seems, at first blush, to be too innocuous to inspire such passionate dislike.

 

The word, of course, is the word moist. There are articles calling for the word moist to be banned and there are pop culture jokes taking advantage of the near universal disgust people feel when the word us uttered. I find it baffling. For all the offensive terms in our language, how is it that one simple, unassuming word has earned the ire of so many?

 

And when it comes to language, there are so many assaults to the english language itself, from bad grammar, to poor punctuation, to the misuse of words, why does this word, in particular, upset so many people?

 

Sexy or not, the word moist sounds exactly like it should

 

There are things I can understand getting upset about. When I see quotation marks used for emphasis I cringe. When someone misuses the word “literally” it’s like nails on a chalkboard. But moist? I think moist is doing it’s job brilliantly. Language should evoke a reaction. If it makes you cringe, great, then language is being effective.

 

Language and word choice are a huge part of any writers bag of tricks. Especially when it comes to erotica and sex writing, word choice is of the utmost importance. The wrong word used to describe a piece of anatomy is enough to pull any reader out of the story. It’s tricky, because you have to be true to what your character would say. What does your female protagonist have in her pants? A pussy, a cunt, or, more clinically, a vulva or vagina? Or is she so shy that words never come into play. Maybe she just has a “down there.”

 

There are enough euphemisms for naughty bits to fill a dirty dictionary and their use is enough to have me shutting a book in exasperation. There’s no way I’m getting off to a story with a ‘hard rod’ or a ‘love cave.’

 

The word moist offends because it describes so well

 

So, if a character slides their hand into someones panties… are the panties moist? Damp? Sopping wet? Soaked with arousal? Each term gives us a different feel, a different impression. Not only of the situation but of the character making the word choice.

 

Clearly there’s a connection here, and it’s one that leads to my favorite theory on the ‘moist’ subject. The theory is that people associate the word ‘moist’ with sex or porn. And for every person who understands this connection there must be more that are making the connection unconsciously.

 

I think it makes sense that people hate the word moist because they’re uncomfortable with discussions of sexuality. Especially sexuality that is fully embodied, with all the messy things that come along with it.

 

It’s a topic that comes up in most adult sex education classes. People are afraid of sex acts that make a mess. Female ejaculation, anal sex, even male ejaculation anywhere but inside a condom… all lead to anxiety. And you know what all those activities are? Moist.

 


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