Monday, October 20, 2008

I don't know why some words make me cringe.

This morning I'm eating a very good apple, which I almost didn't buy because its name makes my skin crawl: "Honeycrisp."

The word "crisp" has always bothered me, and combining it with anything -- as in this apple's name, or worse, the Burger King (is it Burger King?) "tendercrisp" -- makes me want to roll around in broken glass.

Why do some words feel like fingernails on a chalkboard, even when we see them? Most food adjectives do that to me, especially when they're applied to things that aren't food. I once dumped a guy for using the word "delicious" to describe a story (okay, that wasn't the only reason; that was symptomatic of much larger issues. But that's the part of it I remember). "Rich" bothers me in any context except to describe wealth. My younger sisters can't stand any word that describes a clothes fastening, especially "snap."

I'll defend the right to free speech with my dying breath, but the reason it's so important is because words themselves have so much power. One of the things I researched for The Express was a list of racial epithets in common use in the late 1950s/early 1960s; it caused me physical pain to put that list together, and it would not surprise me to hear that it hurt the actors who had to say those words.

If words couldn't hurt, we wouldn't need laws to protect our right to use them. The right to carry a weapon is the Second Amendment; the right to hurl invective is the first. I like to fantasize about issuing licenses to bear adverbs.

Anyway, I wish the apple growers had come up for a better name for this excellent apple. What words can you not stand to hear or see?

20 comments:

Laura Benedict said...

Oh, but Honeyc***p apples are so yummy! Too expensive, though.

I cringe every time I hear the word "classy." Ew.

AnswerGirl said...

Ha! I don't have a problem with "classy," but it makes me think of another word I hate, which is "snack."

Here in apple-growing country these apples are no more expensive than any other kind -- I prefer the Pink Ladys, but the store didn't have them!

Claire said...

"Moist" is a least favorite of mine, though I've found it's a pretty common word to dislike. "Unctuous" is another, as is "fruity" (especially applied to non-edible things, like voices--why did people in the first half of the 20th century insist on describing speaking voices as "fruity"? Even with out the retroactively-applied negative connotation, it's a gross thing to say).

Now I'm going to be thinking about unpleasant words all day.

AnswerGirl said...

"Moist" is disgusting, and while I note that, I should praise the books of Mark Haskell Smith, who specializes in giving his books really disgusting titles (MOIST, DELICIOUS, SALTY). Great books, horrible titles -- but memorable, which I assume is the point.

Jennifer Lechner said...

I hate the word "slacks."

Jen Jordan said...

I despise the word, "classy" but my least favorite word is: snap-crotch.

Oh, the horror!

On a happy note, I love "bubble."

So, that distracted me all of five minutes from deadlines. Joy.

Ed Lamb said...

One-eighty: My favorite word of all time is "pornarchy," which, according to the OED, means "government by harlots."

The last 4 years of the Bill Clinton presidency was a pornarchy, for instance.

Christy Lou Who said...

I like those apples that shall not be named too! I decided to de-lurk to tell you I like apples, apparently. Oh, and your blog!

Kevin Wignall said...

Of course, "crisps" here in England are what you call "chips", chips being what we call fries...

And speaking of that, I say this word only because I was laughing about it with someone the other day -

In one of my books I had a female character wearing a "trouser-suit". Trouser-suits are stylish, women in Vogue wear them. But of course, my US copy-editor wanted to change it to "pant-suit". Now, okay, I write for the US market and I'm cool with elevators and sidewalks and all kinds of Americanisms, but pant-suit! Partly because pants refer to underwear in the UK, but also because "pants" is slang for something being naff or rubbish. No one anywhere should wear a pant-suit, and God forbid that you should go into a store and ask for one. (We settled on just "suit")

Bea said...

It's somewhat comical that crisp is a problem word for you. If you say my name quickly....well....try it.

AnswerGirl said...

Strangely, "crispy" doesn't bother me so much -- but I think of you as "Christopher" instead of "Chris," so had never noticed that.

And Americans would understand what you meant by "trouser-suit," Kevin, especially since "pantsuit" still carries that 1970s polyester connotation here. (Much attention was paid to Hillary Clinton's pantsuit wardrobe during the primaries.)

Larry said...

I'm tired of hearing the word "actually". It have overtaken conversation. Actually, I went to the store and actually bought lemons... A news caster used it five times in two sentences. ARGHHH!

As for your sister, I hope she doesn't have teenagers as the word "snap" will invade her life, "Oh, Snap."

norby said...

Honeycrisp apples are my new favorite fruit, they seem to be on sale pretty often or maybe I just like them so much I haven't paid attention to how much I'm paying for them.

My sister once made the colossal error of telling me she didn't like the words 'crusty' and 'panties'. That was a very fun week for me.

I can't think of any specific words, but my mother has fallen in love with the phrase 'That's a good thing'. I want to throw things at her when she says it.

AnswerGirl said...

"Crusty" is HORRIBLE! Ack!

Anonymous said...

I hate the word "chilly" when it refers to being cold. Mabey it's because I hate being cold and I LOVE chilli.

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, the chilly thing was from James

Anonymous said...

I don't care for "awesome", but I LOVE "bougainvillea"!
Sue

Anna said...

Do you remember that "moist" and "slacks" were two of Ashton's least favorite words? They appear here from others. "Nude" was the other one.

I hate when people say "anywho"! I love the word "propensity."

Anonymous said...

I hate 'panty' and 'panties.' I'm not sure what to substitute since 'underpants' is kind of icky too.

I'm also not found of the use of the word 'singlet' for sweater in Australia. And 'doona' why the heck is a duvet a 'duna?'

I do love that eggplants are aubergines!

-Kathleen

Anonymous said...

I am a few days late but i wanted to add that my word is "often". My seventh grade teacher made such a fuss about the pronunciation.
Everytime I hear "often" instead of "ofen" I cringe.
Sally