I love words. Love to hear them — sometimes. And I love to use them.
Words are powerful. We put them into sentences to express our thoughts and ideas. We don’t even have to use a lot of words to have impact. Sometimes, just one word is extremely imperative.
Yet, for all their gracious and wonderful qualities, words can also have a dark side. We all have heard it. When words come together to create fear, or hatred, or ignorance.
But even if that disparity did not exist, there would still be certain words that simply rub us the wrong way, apparently. There is even a term for it. In language studies, it is called logomisia. And it boils down to this. Logomisia is a term for “a strong dislike for a particular word (or type of word) based on its sound, meaning, usage, or associations.” Those language people also call it “word aversion.” Or worse yet, a “verbal virus.”
As they further explain, this “condition” is an irrational distaste for the sound or sight of a particular word or phrase. Personally, I can think of a few names that fall into this category. But I can’t think of too many words that filter in for me. However, the people have spoken, and here are the tops on the list.
Apparently, people have a “disgust response.” ‘Somehow, these words evoke disgust, even to the point of nausea. Or the reaction could come in the form of an annoyance or even a moral outrage. And this terribly uncomfortable “disgust response” is brought on because the word triggers an connection. People hear the word, and immediately, they have an unusual association with imagery. They imagine a scenario that people would typically find disgusting.
Others on the list? Pus. Expectorate. Rectum. Palpitate. Placenta. Smegma. Scrotum. And of course Fecal Matter.
While I’d never name my kid “Scrotum” or “Palpitate” — I don’t necessarily have an aversion to those words. Apparently, I am not affected by this condition. Although, I go a little crazy when I hear “it is what it is” and “at the end of the day.” When people get interviewed, or asked a question at meetings, there seems to be a lot of things that happen at the end of the day. I guess it is what it is.
But back to Logomisia. As I mentioned, words are powerful, even causing some of us to fall into reactionary illness. Conversely, they can do some marvelous things. They can inspire us, motivate, intrigue, encourage, or awaken us.
The power of words. May we use them wisely.
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
― Rudyard Kipling
“He liked the mere act of reading, the magic of turning scratches on a page into words inside his head.”
― John Green, An Abundance of Katherines
“The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn’t be any of this.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief