Apparently, the publisher Oxford Dictionaries is conducting a survey to find which English words are the most unpopular.
‘Moist’ is proving to be one of the most disliked, which surprises me a bit—perhaps it’s something to do with the way that pronouncing it forces the mouth into a suggestive moue—apart from any problematic suggestiveness of definition. Mind you, I can think of circumstances when it’s a jolly good thing if things are moist….
As a writer, I find it hard to get worked up about words being dislikeable, for they are tools to be used to convey meaning and create an effect. I do take exception to trendy slang. Words suddenly become popular, in a strange phenomenon that sees them applied to things that are nothing to do with their true meaning. Thirty years ago ‘turbo’ was used to describe everything from sunglasses to microwaves when turbocharged engines became popular as a way of generating increased performance.
These days, the word ‘iconic’ is bandied about with monotonous regularity—try watching a television programme to see how quickly the presenter uses it. They could better describe something as noted, famous, long-established, historic or well-known.
By chance, just this morning, I came across a revolting example of a trendy word that I absolutely hate! It was in a newsletter about politics and referred to Donald Trump having some ‘splaining’ to do.
My brain did a somersault, briefly confusing it with another clumsy modern term for a man spreading his legs in public ‘manspreading.’
I realised that the journalist meant ‘explaining’. Even more annoyingly, he’d contracted a slang term ‘mansplaining’ in some feeble attempt to sound cool. What’s the point, if the word takes as long to say as the original, sounds ugly, creates confusion in the reader and is just a pathetic attempt at being hip?
Are there any words that drive you nuts?
‘Severe misuse’ of the survey for the most unpopular word, has led to Oxford Dictionaries suspending it.