On the Origin of Moist


Mmm… So fuktig.

Is there a word grosser than “moist”?

No. That is the epitome of gross. My wife absolutely hates it. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone who likes it.

And this begs the question, “From whence did this vile word come?”

The short answer is France. Surprised? According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “moist” showed up in the 14th century as another way to say “well-irrigated” from the Old French “moiste” which means “damp, wet, or soaked.” Track it back even further and you’ll see that it shares Vulgar Latin roots with words like “moldy, slimy, musty, and mucus.”

Is this really a word that we want to use when describing a delicious cake?

So here are a few ways that you can say that something is moist without saying “moist”:

  • damp
  • slightly wet
  • humid

Hmm, none of those are better. Well, darn. There aren’t any other words out there that mean “moist” that sound better.

At least, no English words are better. So here are a few suggestions from other languages that we might use instead:

  • niiske (Estonian)
  • tutu (Yoruba)
  • wilgotny (Polish)
  • vochtig (Dutch)
  • kostea (Danish)
  • or my personal favorite – fuktig (Norwegian)

Now, all we need to do is substitute any of these next time we feel the need to use the “m” word.

Ready? Let’s do this!


9 thoughts on “On the Origin of Moist

  1. I am not surprised that France had something to do with it. Caleb’s at that reading level where he doesn’t yet know all the words they have foisted upon us, and I’m always saying–“We don’t pronounce the S. It’s Ill-i-noy. Blame the French.”

  2. I also love the word moist!

    Put your lips together
    and express pleasure vocally
    a closed mouth moan
    the first letter of sitting down with friends to break bread
    the sound of anything that feels good for that matter,
    then pucker and open your lips, elongating that vocal expression
    from soft consonant to vowel, again
    a expression of delight
    and slide it musically from low to high, from a kiss to a knowing smile
    your breath landing finally in a hiss from that kiss
    and a so satisfying hard stop
    the word has been spoken

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