Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Word Choice Wednesday: Moist


Merriam-Webster says:
1: slightly or moderately wet : damp 2: tearful 3: characterized by high humidity

I've heard people say they hate this penny word and avoid it whenever they can.

More specific than:
Damp. IMO moist is a little wetter than damp. Or maybe squishier, not necessarily wetter. It's not wet, though.

Word relationships:
The connection between wetness and temperature is interesting -- and physical. If you've ever stepped on a penny barefoot, did you notice how it registers in your brain as both cold and wet? Maybe it's because wet causes cold, on your skin.

Anyway, moist when referring to a degree of water saturation does not, somehow, carry any connotations of temperature. For me. We've got clammy for cold and wet, humid for warm and wet, and dank for dark and wet (and  smelly). Would those be five cent words? Two or three cent? What's a ten-cent synonym of moist? All that's coming to mind is stygian, which only carries a damp connotation (for me) because of its derivation from the River Styx. I don't think wetness is a part of its formal definition, though.

Moist when referring to food (a nice, moist cake) usually does not refer to its water content -- it's oil that makes baked goods "moist". And you definitely wouldn't want a damp cake. Or a clammy one. Humid might work, if it's fresh from the oven...

What comes to your mind? Do you hate moist?


Lucy V Morgan said...

"Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty." HRH Zoolander.

Jessica Hill said...

I've never given this word much thought. I don't hate, but I also don't find myself using it when writing. Very interesting!

John Hallow said...

I like the feel of the word :) It's nice.

I suppose it also depends on the context it's used in. It could describe a girl's hair after she's finished using a towel. It could also be used for a fat, sweaty fifty year old man on a hot summer day, with 'moist' hands and even 'moister' body hair.


Josh Hoyt said...

Moist seems like a good word to me maybe I have a small vocabulary I guess:) This is good information though and will keep it in mind.

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