Bad Language

Are there any words that you just really dislike? I have a friend, for example, who hates it when you say “imbibe.” He actually gets a bit quivery and faint, as though you had just drawn your nails down a chalkboard. He has no explanation for his hatred and no particular opposition to imbibing, he just doesn’t like the sound of the word, or perhaps the feel of it. His reaction is so violent that I can’t even bear to say it around him, even in jest.

I really hate the word “nap,” personally. Even typing it makes me cringe. I usually say “siesta” instead, when I have a cause to mention a brief sleep during the day. Yesterday, for example, I took a brisk 20 minute siesta and woke much refreshed, leading me to think that I should take up the habit on a more serious basis.

I don’t like the n-word because it has this short, sharp sound which grates on my ear and makes me think more of epithets than peaceful afternoon rests. Oddly enough, I don’t mind it in reference to fabric, just sleeping.

I have another friend who hates the word “panties.” I think it’s sort of a foolish word, personally, so I can see why it irritates her so much. She usually says “underpants” instead, which is a perfectly reasonable replacement in my opinion. She also doesn’t like the word “moist,” which makes me think that she had a traumatic experience with bad erotic fiction in her youth.

Almost everyone I know has at least one word in English that they just can’t stand. I suppose this is sort of inevitable, since English is such a hodgepodge of other languages and loan words. There’s something for everyone to hate somewhere in English. There are also, of course, words that I particularly like, such as zygote, defenestration, and words ending in -nt, which have a nice, crisp sound that rolls off the tongue quite beautifully.

So, any favourite words? Or words you really can’t stand?