On the Origin of Moist

chocolate_cake

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!

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7 responses to “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.”

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