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5 Innocent Words That Need to Be Banned from English: Part 2

A little over a year ago, I wrote about word aversion, a phenomenon that occurs when the physical act of saying a word makes you uncomfortable. Not based on what the word represents, but based on how it feels in your mouth.

After that article ran, I scanned through the comments and found a few suggested additions from readers, scattered among spam advertising a dating website for giants and polite, well-articulated reminders that all of our commenters are much stronger than I am, and that my fear of words is most likely linked to how big of a pussy I must be, (a huge one, it turns out).

I decided to write a sequel to that article based on half of those comments. (The other half will be represented next week in "6 Ways That Daniel is a Vagina [That Might Surprise You].")

#5. Panties

I honestly never had a problem with this word until my last word aversion article ran. When it was published, sans-panties, I received a flood of emails and private messages all wondering why "panties" didn't make it on my list. [Sidebar: You will never see me as disappointed as I was the day I came to work and found 136 emails with "PANTIES" as the subject line and realized Oh. They're talking about the article.] So I sat around and said it out loud a few hundred times, and while I did realize that it's impossible to say it without sounding like either a child or a pedophile, (especially if you say it 100 times in an empty room), it never really bothered me as much as the words in the last list. But that doesn't mean it doesn't bother a crapload of other folks.

Dear HR: This is why "I hate panties" is in my search history.

The panty-hate phenomenon is real; I'm just not part of it. That might be because I'm a man, (or, you know, a dude). Based on what I've read as well as independent research, women don't seem to like saying or hearing the word "panties," while men remain indifferent, perhaps because they become instantly distracted whenever they hear it, for some reason.

What it is:

Underwear for ladies and girls. Not much else I can say about it. If you didn't know what panties were, I'm really sorry that you had to learn it from me. Really sorry.

Use it in an Awful Sentence:

"Your sister and mother are at the mall, shopping for panties."

What it Actually Calls to Mind:

An irritating piece of slang that horrible people would use to describe someone who was acting prissy or cranky. Like, you know how the most annoying character in a sitcom set in an office always accuses someone who's pissed off as having "a case of the Mondays?" If you came to work very irritable, that same person would say "Ooh, call the doctor, it looks like Johnson over here has come down with a case of The Panties, heh heh. Hope it's not contagious, or else we'll have a panty-demic on our hands!"

I sure do hate you, Guy-I-Just-Invented.

#4. Dollop

I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what exactly about this word bugs me. It's structurally very similar to "gallop," a word with which I have absolutely no qualms. There has to be some awful ingredient in the "dol" part, because every time I say this word now, I feel like I'm trying to swallow my own lips as punishment for giving the word access to the real world.

(The lips are the bouncers of the face, you see.)

What it is:

Dictionary.com defines it as a "shapeless mass or blob of something, esp. soft food," and that's certainly not doing the word any favors. As a rule, I try to avoid using words that could be used to define the amount of matter that a baby threw up.

Use it in an Awful Sentence:

"Doctor? I'm concerned, my 10-month-old just threw up about a dollup of egg yolk and orange pulp. Should I take him to the emergency room?"

No, just bury him and please never call me again, that fictional doctor should have said.

What it Actually Calls to Mind:

You know that loose bit of skin fat that dangles under the chins of old folks, (Not jowls, it's more central than that)? It's like a loose, wrinkly dewlap for old people?

That's a dollop.

#3. Phlegm

I know that the production of phlegm is actually a good thing, that it means your body is trying to fight some kind of infection, but that doesn't make me feel better about it. The way I feel about phlegm protecting my body is the same way I'd feel if the weird, slimey, greasy guy at worked saved me from a burning building. Yes, thank you, I appreciate that, but in the future just... just let me die, I'd rather not be in debt to you.

What it is:

"A liquid secreted by the mucous membranes of mammalians," which is either the definition of phlegm or a list of allergies as written by my boner.

Use it in an Awful Sentence:

I can't come up with anything better than this sentence ripped from a website dedicating to understanding and removing phlegm:

"If the color of your phlegm is brown or gray, it may be your body is expelling tars or resins built up from smoking or inhaling large amounts of dust."

What it Actually Calls to Mind:

A supervillain made entirely out of globs of fat. Plus he's always wet and he stands way too close to you, and his special move is he puts his finger in your mouth and you hate it. And the heroes are all "Oh, crap, The Phlegm is at it again, he's down at the children's hospital and just ... just leaking everywhere, and bumming everyone out. He smells like a bag of butts that got peed on. Last time I fought him he kept trying to pinch my thighs. That's, fuck it, I'm just gonna kill him. Soon as I see him."

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Daniel O'Brien

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