Bad words

There are words that, when you say them slowly and deliberately, sound wrong. “Wait. Is this actually a word?” you’ll think to yourself, or, if you don’t worry about what people nearby might think of your state of mind, say aloud to yourself. “Am I saying it wrong? Is it even a word?”

I first experienced this phenomenon around 1972, with “motorcycle.” Mo-tor-cy-cle. Or more accurately, mo-der-cy-cle. Mo-pause-der-pause-cycle. Modercycle. I fretted no small amount over it and still sometimes do. It simply seems wrong.

In the decades since that year of the Watergate break-in, other bad words have presented themselves to me. When I say them I stop to wonder if I have them wrong. Here are those that pop to mind at just this minute:

How
Sheath
Towel
Freshly
Surrilous (Surrilous is not a word, which could explain why it sounds wrong.)

I have never thought to ask if anyone else has noticed this condition. Maybe it’s just me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *