MAY 14, 2016 9:05 PM PDT

Why People Hate The Word "Moist"

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

Why do people hate the word "moist?"

According to a study conducted by Oberlin College psychology professor Paul Thibodeau, the aversion to the word "moist" derives from its connotations.

The study involved 2,500 participants and took place over four years. It found that up to 20 percent of Americans are averse to the word "moist." Those who made up the 20 percent were more likely to be younger and have more anxiety. Those disgusted by the word "moist" are not, however, averse to words that sound similar to moist, such as "hoist" and "rejoice." Thus, it's not the way the word sounds that is off-putting.

Those who are averse to the word "moist" were also turned off by "sticky" and "damp." This suggests that people are more averse to the meaning than the word itself. They were additionally averse to words describing bodily functions, such as "diarrhea" and "phlegm." Thibodeau suggests this is due to the idea that, throughout human history, those who ran from diarrhea, vomit, and similar symptoms were also those who avoided disease.
About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to
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