OK, everyone, get ready for it: This article is going to feature lots of references to the word…moist. If that made you full-body shiver, you're not alone. (A Facebook group called "I hate the word MOIST!" has more than 3,000 members.) And scientists have figured out why you hate it so much, Nautilus reports.
Researchers from Oberlin College and Trinity University ran multiple studies to figure it out and calculated that as many as 20 percent of people have a nails-on-the-chalkboard reaction to the word "moist." But the reason why is puzzling. People don't hate rhyming words like "rejoiced" or "foist," and a study that says the word "moist" activates facial muscles associated with disgust is controversial at best.
The researchers found one plausible reason why the word makes you want to run for the hills. The word "moist" is associated with bodily functions that are considered gross, like vaginal wetness or sweat. People who didn't like the word moist also hated words like "damp" and "sticky," and people hated "moist" the most when it was paired with a sexual word, like "pussy." But when paired with a word like "cake," it was considered less icky.
Age also has a lot to do with how you perceive the word. In multiple studies, the researchers found that younger people were more likely to hate it, and that might be because social media has spread the idea that the word "moist" equals gross. Neurotic people were also more likely to hate the word, which isn't much of a surprise, since neuroticism is associated with anxiety in general.
The moral of the story here? It's you, not the word. Take it from Barney on How I Met Your Mother:
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.