5 words guaranteed to raise a smile

Unlike other words—ahem, moist—these will not make you shudder. They might even put you in a good mood.


Well, I’ve been saying it for years, and now it is finally official—”moist” is the most disgusting word in English.

This week, a Slate article on word aversion offered these statistics on “moist”:

“In a survey of 75 Mississippi State University students from 2009, moist placed second only to vomit as the ugliest word in the English language. In a 2011 follow-up survey of 125 students, moist pulled into the ugly-word lead—vanquishing a greatest hits of gross that included phlegm, ooze, mucus, puke, scab, and pus. Meanwhile, there are 7,903 people on Facebook who like the “interest” known as ‘I Hate the Word Moist.’ (More than 5,000 other Facebook users give the thumbs up to three different moist-hatred Facebook pages.)”

Of course, the world needs balance. So I’m going to share a few words that are almost guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. If you start to feel angry or otherwise dissatisfied at any point in the next 825 years, simply say one of the following words, and sweet, glorious, succulent happiness will be yours.

1. Muffin.

Easily the cutest food humans have ever invented, the word itself evokes a childlike exuberance that nothing can extinguish. Indeed, the word “moist” loses all its power against the rampant positivity of muffin. If I tell you, “Wow, this is a moist muffin!” it’s not going to bother you nearly as much as if I say, “Wow, I’m really moist right now!” See? “Muffin” is awesome.

2. Bubble.

This word is the linguistic equivalent of a field full of puppies. Everyone on the planet likes bubbles. If hostile aliens were to land here with the intention of exterminating the human race, we could probably make friends out of them by simply blowing bubbles in their direction. This word is even more amazing if you repeat it rapidly: Bubble bubble bubble bubble bubble bubble. Try it. I’ll bet you can’t say it 10 times in a row without smiling. If you don’t crack a smile, you’re probably dead inside.

3. Sphygmomanometer.

That’s the thing that takes your blood pressure—or, perhaps more accurately, it’s the meter that measures your sphygmomanos, which sounds way more doctor-y. But just try to get someone to say it, and it’ll make everyone in earshot feel delightful.

4. Lollygag

The best way to waste time ever. Can you even get upset at someone who says, “Sorry I’m late. I was just lollygagging and, well, time gets away from you during a good lollygag.”

5. Pumpkin.

Not only does this narrowly edge out kumquat as the best name for a food, it’s also the dumbest pet name you can give someone. Pumpkins are fat, orange, asymmetrical, and quick to rot—just like your sweetheart.

What are your favorite happy-sounding words?

Jeff Havens is a corporate speaker and trainer who helps people succeed at leadership, communication, professional development, and more by telling them exactly what not to do. He shares his unique blend of comedy and content at JeffHavens.com.

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