Gross! You Said What?: 12 Words That Make Most People Go ‘Ew’

We’ve already covered how and why the word ‘moist’ grosses us out (well, not all of us, someone told me recently that ‘moist’ is one of their favorite words!). If you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t find yourself at all affected by this particular word, you’re not out of the woods yet! Word aversion can happen with almost any everyday term and I’m sure there are a few words out there that tend to make you shudder in disgust. If you think word aversion doesn’t apply to you, check out our list of the 12 most popular (or infamous) words that tend to make people cringe and see if you come out the other side unscathed. Read on if you dare!


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1. Phlegm

This one seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? After all anything that has to do with gross bodily functions tends to make us gag.

2. Panties

‘Panties’ is a word that a huge percentage of women are inclined to despise. There are several reasons why, although most women say the word is infantilizing and sounds too sexualized. As a result, most prefer using the word ‘underwear’ instead.

3. Fetus

This word strikes a nerve with people because it seems to imply something bad. As one commenter put it, when a woman doesn’t want a baby it’s called a ‘fetus’, when she does it’s a ‘baby’. What do you think?

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4. Squirt

Here’s another word that could be easily associated with bodily functions and therefore has become one of the most disliked words out there!

5. Slacks

There is really no logical explanation for why slacks makes the list as one of the most despised words. People tend to prefer you call them plain old ‘pants’ or ‘dress pants’.


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6. Chunks

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word ‘chunks’ the first thing I think of is someone hurling. It doesn’t cause a strong hostile reaction for me, but it’s still pretty gross, don’t you think?

7. The G’s

This one’s a real doozy because there is a whole list of words that start with ‘g’ and tend to freak people out. A few of them are: ‘gurgle’, ‘gulp’, and ‘gargle’. Did you notice that they all have something to do with vocalization?

8. Smear

Nothing good ever comes of smearing something on something, or someone, else. People tend to associate this word with food, or even worse feces, being smeared around. Ew, just ew.

9. Lugubrious

I’m not going to lie; I had to look this one up. Apparently lugubrious means ‘looking or sounding sad and dismal.’ Remember though that it’s not always the meaning of the word that turns people off, but rather the way it sounds!


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10. Curd

For some reason, ‘curd’ sounds like a dirty word. Some experts believe it’s because it sounds similar to words like ‘turd’, ‘curdle’, and ‘crud’, which, let’s admit it, are just a teeny bit nasty.

11. Flap

This is yet another word that more women than men tend to hate. It’s believed people associate it with words like ‘fap’ (a slang term for masturbate) and ‘skin flap’. For me the latter set of words sounds particularly gross.

12. Word aversion

This is more of a joke, of course, but some rather sarcastic individuals claim to have an aversion to ‘word aversion’. Why? Because the idea of certain words making people nauseous sounds like the language equivalent of food allergies. Of course, that still doesn’t make us hate words like ‘moist’ any less!

It seems that words related to bodily functions tend to be the ones that dominate most people’s lists of terms they hate. This isn’t surprising considering that unpleasant life experiences can often make us associate certain words with disagreeable things. However, for most of these words the dig isn’t in what they mean to us but the fact that the way they sound grosses us out. And, in cases like ‘moist’ we love to hate words that are cool to hate.

Which of these words do you think people hate because it’s cool to hate them? Are there any other words we didn’t mention that make you feel nauseous? Name them (if you can) and tell us why you hate them in the comments section!