In 2014, the online radio station NPR caused quite a stir when they announced that they had pinpointed the creepiest word in the English language. The word in question? Moist. That’s right, the same word you might use to describe a freshly baked cake is also one of the most polarizing words in existence. But how did NPR come to this conclusion? With the help of data scientists, of course!
By analyzing a variety of factors, including “word associations, connotations, and cultural references,” how data scientists pinpointed creepiest word. In addition to moist, other words that made a list included slutty, Phlegm, hipster, and unemployment.
So, what exactly goes into making a word creepy? Let’s take a closer look at different factors that could contribute.
What Makes a Word Creepy?
There are a few different factors that can make a word appear creepy. According to linguist Ben Zimmer, words that are “slang terms for bodily functions or secretions” are often considered to be creepy. This likely explains why words like moist and phlegm made NPR’s list. Additional factors that can make a word seem creepy include “words with negative connotations or dark histories,” as well as “unusual or made-up words.”
Let’s take a closer look at some of the creepiest words on NPR’s list:
– Moist: As we mentioned before, this word is often used to describe food that is fresh or has been recently baked. However, it can also be used in other contexts, such as when referring to someone who is sweating profusely or when describing something as being slimy or sticky. Because of its dual meaning, the word moist can be considered creepy by some people.
– Slutty: This word has long been used as a way to demean and belittle women who express their sexuality freely. As such, it has negative connotations that can make it seem creepy when used today.
Unemployment: This word is usually used to describe a state of financial hardship caused by the loss of a job. However, it can also be seen as a reminder of difficult times experienced by many people around the world. For some, this makes it a creepy word.
– Hipster: This term is often used to describe someone who is pretentious or try-hard cool. While not overtly negative, the connotations associated with this word can make it seem creepy to some people.
Ultimately, the creepiness of a word can vary from person to person. What might be creepy for one individual may not be considered creepy by someone else. However, certain factors, such as negative connotations and associations with bodily functions, can contribute to a word’s overall creepiness.
Conclusion: pinpointing exactly what makes a word appear creepy is tricky business. However, by taking into account factors such as bodily functions, secretions, negative connotations, and dark histories, we can get a better understanding of which words might send a chill down our spine.