down with hygiene!

English has so many lovely, melodious words–cadence, delicatessen, charlatan, nursling to name a few.  These words bounce nicely around my head and roll pleasantly off of my tongue.

Today at Target, I was reminded of one of my least favorite words as we rolled through the cold and allergy aisles–“hygiene.”  While I am personally a great proponent of the concept, I really detest that word.  It sounds so sterile, so clinical, so unpleasant.  It, frankly, sounds like something that I want to stay away from rather than strive for.  In the fifth grade at Arcado Elementary School, I can still remember when the guidance counselor, Mrs. Rall, had to come to our class and give the female students The Dreaded Talk.  For thirty minutes, we were in hygiene hell with the h-word and all of its equally horrid friends (pituitary, menses, underarm) assaulting us from every corner.

“Hygiene” isn’t alone in my unpleasant list of words.  The word “pulchritude” makes me grimace  every time I encounter it despite being attached to some of the world’s loveliest people.  And don’t get me started on “nuptial.”  At every wedding I attend, I can’t get images of breastfeeding out of my mind when I hear that word.

I know that I am not alone in my hatred of certain words–I know a woman who despises the word “moist” for all of its unpleasant connotations.   So, here’s to Synonym Day where we come up with alternate ways to express ourselves and get around those unpleasant words.  I, personally, look forward to shopping in Target’s newly renamed “Cleanliness for Body and Home” section next time I am there.



  1. Amy said

    phlegm…that’s a a gross one for an even grosser concept.

  2. will said


  3. Mike + Linda said


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