Today's post is a shameless repurposing of a comments thread on my Facebook page, as suggested by Yvonne Nolan.
I started it by taking a break from editing a manuscript to express my visceral dislike of food adjectives used to describe anything other than food. In fact, I usually cringe even when these words are used to describe food.
Every writer I know has words like these — words that for whatever reason cause irritation, almost pain, similar to fingernails on a blackboard. My younger sisters can't stand the sound of any word that describes a clothes fastening; if I ever want to make them squeal, all I have to do is sneak up behind them and whisper the word "clasp."
I'm a little nervous about listing mine here, because I know you'll think it's funny to drop these words into email exchanges and conversations with me. I ask you, in all seriousness, not to. These words really do affect me like a baby crying or the squeak of a balloon being dragged across plastic, and I don't have much of a sense of humor about being tortured. Does anyone?
We'll make this a trust exercise. Leave your own most-loathed words in the comments section.
1. Yummy. The word itself disgusts me, but I especially loathe it when used to describe a human being. If I want to make myself queasy (and why would I?), all I have to do is think about that scene in The Wedding Singer where Christine Taylor says this word after kissing Adam Sandler. Ugh.
2. Hubby. Something about this diminutive strikes me as insufferably smug and intolerably cute. I might feel differently if I were married, but I doubt it. I doubt it very much.
3. Crisp. I've mentioned this before, I think; I love the apples, but cannot say the name (Honeycrisp) aloud. Something about the way the word ends makes all the hair on my arms stand up, and not in a good way.
4. Utilize. This was, without exaggeration, the favorite word of a former boss of mine, and it was all I could do not to fly across the table at him during staff meetings. Pay attention: "utilize" is never a better word than "use." It doesn't make you sound smarter. It doesn't sound more professional. It just makes you sound like a pretentious jargoneer. I would take it as a personal favor if you would promise me today never to use it again.
5. Moist. Do I need to explain this? Do I really? Its use to advertise things like cake mix baffles me. I do not want to eat anything that's moist. I don't want to touch it. I don't want to look at it. I don't want to hear it squelching or imagine its clammy texture. Get it away from me, now. Please. Thank you.