12 Words That Make Me Totally Carsick

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Not all words were created equal.

Certainly, many are beautiful. The dictionary is flooded with examples of handsome, underused words that actually denote cool things. I love the sound of beguile, jinx, quintessence, and hemlock. Those are cool. Also, galvanize, Pentecostal, warlock, dystopia, battalion, disheveled, tactician, and volcanic. All. day. long. (Hell, I even invented a great one: Dopplegangbang.)

They feel good on the tongue. You can roll them around and they have weight, like melting silver. And they’re pleasing to the ear. One afternoon I heard a cute barista use the word “calamitous” and I wanted to summersault over the counter and mate on site.

However, some words have the opposite effect. They’re gross and useless, and whenever I hear them, I feel anxious, angry, sad, and carsick.

I listened to a recent NPR segment where a guest was bemoaning the sad state of our American vocabulary. According to her, the working lexicon of the average 14 year old has declined from 25,000 words to only 10,000 over the past 50 years. I was like, “Fucking GOOD. We’re on the right track.”

Some words should vanish. Like banjo players at Coachella, there’s no shame in admitting that hundreds, if not thousands, are simply unnecessary.

Therefore, I would like to wage a campaign for the permanent eradication of certain shitty words from our vernacular. In my opinion, these should be the first to the firing squad:


1. Pampered. As in, “I have the afternoon off, Helen. Let’s go to the spa and get pampered!”

2. Crotch. As in, “These jeans are a little tight in the crotch.”

3. Womb. As in, “You needn’t pull them up over your entire womb, June.”

4. Teat. As in “Bessie is giving milk; her teat is inflamed.”

5. Milk (the verb). As in, “If you’re having trouble producing a sample, the doctor would be more than happy to milk your prostate.”

6. Meringue. As in, “The meringue on this pie is delicious, Ruth.”

7. Ejaculate (the noun). As in, “That’s not meringue, Helen, that’s actually human ejaculate.”

8. Loin. As in, “Great loin cloth, bro.”

9. Broth. As in, “Great dinner party. This is some tasty motherfucking broth.”

10. Compote. As in, “This white trash diner offers pancakes with blueberry compote. Enjoy.”

11. Limber. As in, “Harold is not as limber as he used to be.”

12. Funky. As in, “My daughter just loves Avril Lavigne, so her style is, you know… pretty funky.”

Oh, and I didn’t even mention mealy, sofa, dander, snooze, errands, moist and chockfull.

Do you have any to add to the list? Let’s discuss. TC mark

Check out Mat Devine’s new book Weird War One here.

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