Underwear and Word Usage

I just got this Hanky Panky Retro Thong in two colors, and I can’t overstate their perfection. They are the Holy Grail of underpants. Let me just quote Hanky Panky’s website:

A high-waisted panty with figure-flattering coverage everywhere you need it, and absolutely nowhere you don’t. This panty is designed with an extra-generous band of lace that hugs your midsection and tricks even thick tummies into feeling super svelte.

Every word is true! But not every word is good.

I can’t stand the word “panty.”   “Can’t stand” isn’t strong enough to describe my feelings about panty or “panties.” It almost makes me sick. I’ve felt like this for most of my adult life. Sometimes, I’ll be reading a magazine and the phrase “sans panties” will almost give me a stroke.

I asked my husband what he felt about “panties.” He isn’t nearly as reactive to words as I am, but he agrees on panties. He prefers “underpants,” which is my preference too. No wonder we stay together!

I think it’s the infantile connotation with “panty” that makes me cringe. There may be more at a deeper subconscious level.

I was pleased to find on a blog about language that lots of people hate “panties,” yet surprised to learn about a widespread aversion to the word “moist.” It cuts across both genders:   No one likes moist.

Generally speaking, I am more likely to take offense at a word or phrase than anyone I know. Max was a pretty hardcore wordist but not as bad as I am. Any yet, I have no trouble with “moist.” Am I broken or something? “Moist” reminds me of moist cake. or moist lipstick. Things should be moist, ideally, or else they’re too dry.

Going back to the blog just now, I see that someone hates the word “suckle.” Eoow.   Same here. It’s especially creepy when applied to humans.

Have a look at Language Log and get in on the word aversion.   I like that they make a point to distinguish between word rage (like when you hear someone on the news say “grow the economy”) and word aversion (like panty.)

Feel free to share your own personal aversions.

Tags: ,

87 Responses to “Underwear and Word Usage”

  1. littlebadwolf Says:

    someplace amelia bloomer is laughing…….

  2. David Duff Says:

    What about ‘knickers’?

  3. mimi Says:

    I HATE THE WORD PANTIES TOO!! and dont care about the word moist. i thought i was the only one about both words!

    this has made my day. seriously.

    i also hate the words/phrases – “nom nom nom”, “babein”, “living the dream”, “organic”, “flesh”, “ignoramus” ….

    im sure i hate more but cant think of any right now.

  4. Make Do Style Says:

    Hahahaha ‘panties’ is well ..so pants! Yuk yuk yuk. Thankfully we are mainly all about the underwear or knickers here. I can tolerate pants but we mean knickers not trousers unless sweatpants – actually I think I really dislike the word sweatpants.

    Amazingly I have no issue with moist either – my first thought is moist cake – sounds delicious. A moist lemon drizzle cake – heaven!

  5. Miggs Says:

    I detest the word ‘nostril’. It’s the one word that really makes me shudder.

  6. Sister Wolf Says:

    Miggs – Nostril?! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaaha. I’m sorry for laughing. I’ll never say n—–l around you.

  7. Sister Wolf Says:

    David and Make Do – When an American says “knickers” it’s kind of like calling a dress a “frock. It just sounds silly and pretentious.

  8. dexter vandango Says:

    I think your hubby is just humoring you.

    I allege that 99 out of 100 men would prefer to read, “..she shuddered with delight as his hand slid down and removed her panties..” than “..she shuddered with delight as his hand slid down and removed her underwear..”

    Why? Because panties denotes something smaller, lighter, more feminine.. while underwear can be massive fruit of the loom genderless clumps akin to armament..

  9. David Duff Says:

    Well, I can’t compete with that old smoothie, Dexter, but for my generation the words ‘she wore a frock and knickers’ summons up, er, delightful imagery, shall we say! I particularly like ‘frock’ and wish it would return.

    And ‘underwear’ is so utilitarian, that’s what Russian girls in tractor factories wore!

  10. m8 Says:

    Ooooh! I hate “panties” too…
    And – “tuna”, as well as “slacks”

  11. carla fox Says:

    Sitting on a park bench
    eyeing little girls with bad intent.
    Snot running down his nose
    greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.
    Drying in the cold sun
    Watching as the frilly panties run……..

    THAT’S what I think of when I hear the word panties (thanks, Jethro Tull). Creepy and pervy. Ugh.

    Moist…….umm, cake. No problem there!

  12. honeypants Says:

    omg m8 – thanks for hating “slacks” with me! I’ve hated it my entire life. I remember in 4th grade a girlfriend referring to her pants as slacks and it made me furious!

    I was a panty hater my whole life, until the last 5-7 years. I don’t use it exclusively, but I do use it — sometimes to call my bf’s briefs his panties, and it amuses me, but that’s what he gets for wearing briefs instead of boxers. I’ve always been an “underwear” person.

    Also hate moist. And suckle. I think you know SW, that I’m a big word hater too:

    Sup. Supper. Supple. Mature (pronounced muh-tour). Bosom.

    I used to hate cream and pill, but I got over those sometime in my 20s.

  13. RedHead Says:

    Any time a partner of mine has used the word ‘panties’ I recoil. This often upsets them. I think it makes the user sound like a sex offender. They soon reconsider.

  14. RedHead Says:

    And those….erm, knickers I suppose, look v comfortable but, given my waist-to-hip ratio, would be almost as unflattering to me as boy shorts. Sadface.

  15. Elaine Says:

    But then I wouldn’t be able to say
    Don’t get your panties in a twist
    Don’t get your knickers in a twist

  16. Cristine Says:

    “Junk” when used to describe men’s genetalia. I have no problem with cock & balls.
    The word “Pristine” makes my skin crawl.
    No problem with “moist”.
    “Panties” I hear the word with a lisp when I see it written-if that makes any sense.
    Not fond of the word “tit”, but that’s probably because my father used to tell my sister not to get her “tit in a wringer” which still makes me cringe.

  17. purpleafricanprincess Says:

    Panty, panties and pussy are horrible words.
    My favourite that drives other people nuts- ABSOLUTELY!
    guy at work alwasys goes- “absoltely what”. I maintain it is valid as a one word answer in agreement with the statement last made by the previous speaker! He disagrees

  18. patni Says:

    I do not like panties one little bit. I call them knickers, but i am English, even though I have lived in the US for years. I would like to call them pants, but that causes too much misunderstanding. I had a boyfriend who refereed to his shredded old boxers as his undies, and that made me laugh. I think we should start calling them “smalls”

    I suffer constantly from all kinds of word rage and word aversion. At the moment what is bugging me most is an annoying overuse. One day a fashion writer will write an article and talk about a white shirt with out calling it a “crisp” white shirt. Makes me want a washed out soft greying whiteish t shirt.
    There are too many to list. I am a terrible terrible speller, so I will not start on that….

  19. Suspended Says:

    My insides recoiled when I read “Panties.” I was disappointed in your use of the word until I caught up. To me it’s one of those words that encompasses too many negatives. I see it a cutesy word that makes you think of little girls, but at the same time an adult word used by pervy men, therefor, it has an air of paedophilia. Only Benny Hill would use it.

    My wife thinks “underpants” are something a man wears. I can see her point. It has an air of Y-front about it. In the UK we use Pants or Knickers when referring to lady drawers. Perhaps briefs would be a suitable substitute.

    I absolutely hate “Nom” as does my wife. Actually, she has it worse than me. There are a new range of yoghurts called Nom that look fairly tasty but are banned from entering our basket…haha.

    Words I hate – Pussy, Juxtaposition, Random (this is more to do with the current airhead usage, its blood curdling) Flange, Buttocks, Fleshy, Fanny, Faggot, Groin, Scrappy-Doo and all those stupid words from Harry Potter books. There are too many to go on.

    No problem with moist. I love warm cake!

  20. Anne Says:

    I had not even considered the word Moist to be out of the ordinary until you said it in the same breath as Panty!

    While Panty is not a good world for female underwear, the word underpants brings up images of boxers. Maybe undies? Not sure…

  21. patni Says:

    also nom nom nom.

  22. Jill Says:

    Can Dexter please continue his train of thought?

  23. Sister Wolf Says:

    patni and Suspended – What the fuck is “nom?”

    Suspended – I think you forgot “rump,” which I file with “buttocks.”

  24. Sister Wolf Says:

    Cristine – “Junk”, oh god, just kill me.

    m8 – Yep, “slacks” is bad but also has a tragic aspect to it. Does anyone feel that too?

  25. hammie Says:

    Sis, there is a fabulous Drag Queen in Ireland called Miss Panti and her club is called Panti Bar: http://www.pantibar.com/blog

    My most hated word is “Kiddies, and Kiddos” especially but not limited to parents of kiddies. gick.

    My favourite word for underwear is undies or as we say in Australia: Reg Grundy’s (Producer of Australian Soaps like The Sullivans)


  26. lisa Says:

    I have a particular Hatred for the word ‘Fashionista’… everyone seems to be one these days even if you just like clothing or wear clothing, doesn’t that make us all fashionista’s, why make up a stupid label for wearing clothing, i mean its personal taste which makes what your wearing fashionable or not isn’t it?
    Although lets be honest not eveyone gets it right, re: your previous post ….. He is a classic Douche.
    Also I hate ‘Thongs’ (which we all know is a type of underwear, Can you imagine the confussion it caused when while living with a british girl when the aussie male flatemate runs into the room and loudly proclaims to have found a great pair of thongs and he’ll just go put them on to show her) as in Australia this term is referring to their footwear ie. flip-flops, which is also another word i tend to cringe at but at least its descriptive and can’t be confused. I am a kiwi so our word for flip-flops is jandal, which is also descriptive and more fitting for a sandal/but not, type of footwear.

  27. gea Says:

    I like moist, never understood why people hate it so much…? Maybe it’s to do with its sexual connotation.

    I cannot stand “yummy,” especially when used to describe things that aren’t food. It makes my skin crawl!

  28. patni Says:

    Hammie i was going to bring up panti! she is the best! as is panti bar.

  29. patni Says:

    I think nom nom nom is supposed to be yum yum yum. it means the person saying it is eating something they like. It has a hipster tone to it that makes me assume they are eating vegan gluten free spirulina brownies.

  30. Dru Says:

    lisa – I AM WITH YOU ON THE FASHIONISTA HATE. What an awful, vapid word. I remember someone left a link to some blog called Idiosyncratic Fashionistas here the other day, and all I could think was that truly idiosyncratic people wouldn’t be calling themselves “fashionistas” in the first place.

    I also really hate the word “boobs”, it is just too Cosmopolitan for my liking and I prefer to call the two lumps in my bra tits, thank you very much. “Pussy” also makes me absolutely cringe, though I have no problems with cunt (as a name for a body part or a descriptive for someone I hate, either way works fine).

    As for panties, I never call them that. It’s either underwear or (if we’re referring to the fancy kind) knickers for me.

  31. Dru Says:

    Other words I really hate: “epic” when it’s being used to describe things that are in fact, extremely mundane. Last night’s date/drink-till-you-throw-up/shopping is not epic. Classic literature does not deserve to be sullied by association with some idiot’s inability to find an appropriate superlative for something that doesn’t need one.

    My final nomination for a permanent ban from language is the word “hubby” or “hubs”. It’s even worse than panties.

  32. Layers&Swathes Says:

    I despise the word ‘panties’ – I’m more of a ‘knickers’ girl myself.

    The other word I have issues with is ‘guacamole’ but not enough to stop me from eating it…

  33. Sister Wolf Says:

    Layers&Swathes – Nothing could stop me from eating guacamole.

    patni – YES< “crisp white shirt” is so grating. I could never be friends with anyone who says “crisp white shirt.”

  34. Sam Says:

    I concur sister.

    ‘Panties’ or ‘panty’ sounds pervy, creepy and condescending.

    ‘nom nom’ is equally as ‘dirty old man-ish’

    Can I reiterate once again my hatred of the use of the word ‘awesome’ to describe something which clearly isn’t?

    Shit and derision.

  35. Joan Says:

    “Panties” pales in comparison with “Manties”– go on, Google it. I dare you.

  36. Cricket9 Says:

    Ah, English is my second language, it all sounds funny to me! Just kidding. I do hate fashionista, hubby and “yummy mommy”.

  37. DCD Says:

    I definitely second: “hubby/hubs,” “yummy,” and, especially, “supper.”

  38. Jillian Says:

    I hate “wifey.” I’ve hated the word “sweaty” since I was a child. Once a teacher said, “Look at all these sweaty bodies,” and I almost threw up.

  39. Brittany Says:

    I hate the word “sunnies” in reference to sunglasses. I hate the word “blog” so imagine my disdain for the word “bloglovin”. I especially hate the word “funky”. God, I despise the word “funky”; whether it’s funky music or a a funky smell. The word “goods” gets on my nerves too; like “dry goods”.

  40. dexter vandango Says:

    …for Jill ..more to inspire and energize? – http://www.dextervandango.com/view.do?contentId=144&menuId=144

  41. Iron Chic Says:

    I can not, will not tolerate the phrase “shits and giggles.”

  42. jlynn Says:

    Hate: “Sliders” as in tiny hamburgers-yuck.
    Also, “belch”, “cooch”, “gal”, and “hipster” (for underwear)

    Love: “ladybusiness”, “Luftwaffe”, “dumpling” and “zazz”.

    “Underpants” clearly outclasses panties”; dignified enough for your grandma to say i.e. “always wear clean underpants”, yet tantalizingly suggestive in the right context i.e. (“the sight of her shapely ankle caused relentless tightening of his underpants”).

  43. Sister Wolf Says:

    Brittany – “sunnies’ is awful, and so is “lippies” for lipstick. All that babytalk is just awful. Funky is terrible and bloglovin sounds like some kind of condom. We are on the same wavelength.

    Jlynn – “Sliders” is sickening, who even thought of this word to describe hamburgers? Are they supposed to slide down your throat?

  44. Suebob Says:

    I hate “cuddle.” I think when those “cuddle parties” came out, it just sent me over the edge. The idea of strangers in PJs copping feels with each other…ugh.

    And oddly, “Swiss.” Just the way that word sounds sets my teeth on edge. Nothing against the actual Swiss, though. They have a lovely little country.

  45. Em Says:

    I also can’t stand “frock.” Basically any word that is a British thing makes me cringe when I hear Americans say it. For example, “lovely.” I’ve never heard an American call something lovely and sound natural. I don’t usually care about the way other people speak (grammar snobs really get under my skin) but pretentious words do irritate me.

    Other than that, I don’t like most slang words for semen.

  46. anA Says:

    makes me want to commit homicide.

  47. dexter vandango Says:

    ..sorry about hubby.. but it seems apparent from all these euphemisms that each generation creates or prefers its own… which the following generation despises… Part of rejecting the obsolete contamination of previous genes..?

  48. Bevitron Says:

    I’m with you all the way on panties. I hate it all by itself, with the standard pronunciation “pann-tees”, but here in the southeastern US it’s usually “pain-tees”, or worse, “pain-ees”. Terrifying. I hear the Deliverance banjo.

    I’m so glad someone else feels the tragedy with “slacks” – for me I think this relates to my mother’s use of the word for every possible form of pants. She also called every type of garment worn around the upper body & arms (excepting coats) “blouse” so I hate that one too.

    I don’t like “breasts”; tits is okay with me. “Moist” and “groin” are awful, I agree. “Membrane” makes me nauseated.

    “Obese” is an execrable word.

  49. Anny Says:

    I hate hearing “crown jewels” … & I don’t mean The Queen’s….

    I agree w/ U re: “panties”, altho I wasn’t aware that others hated that word, too.

    Thanx, Sister, for being there.

  50. Sister Wolf Says:

    Bevitron – Yes, “slacks” = my mother. What about “sofa?”

  51. dexter vandango Says:

    There are rational and justifiable reasons for loathing certain words.. but sofa? Frank Zappa couldn’t have sung, “Don’t get your man-juice (I omit the actual word he used as it’s no doubt loathed too) on that sofa..”
    It would have sounded weird if he said couch or divan..

  52. Dru Says:

    Another word I really dislike: pumpkin. It sounds like something I’d slap if it were a person.

  53. Ann Says:

    I’m indifferent about the word moist. I can take it or leave it. I too say underpants! It’s way better than panties. Can’t handle nom. HATE fashionista, or any “ista” other than barista, which is only barely tolerable. Sunnies for sunglasses is awful. I also can’t stand when a writer shortens the word “says” to “sez.” It makes me want to seek the offender out and kill by fire.

    To balance out the negativity I’ve spewed forth, here are some words I love: dank, impetus, caveat, apoplectic, rad (sorry, I know, I know).

  54. David Duff Says:

    Here’s a phrase that produces flecks of foam about my lips and sets my eyeballs swivelling simulataneously in opposite directions – standby – I can hardly bear to write them – here we go –

    Her Majesty’s Inland Revenue and Customs!

    Aaaargh, yuk, I feel sick . . .

  55. dexter vandango Says:

    David, if you feel sick Britain has a perfectly adequate National Health Service. They even treat the hopeless..

  56. Catalina Says:

    The word “pussy” makes me want to throw up. I am still having nightmares with Sister Wolf’s Wiener post. *shudders*

  57. Andra Says:

    David, have you already spent the windfall that HM’s taxman so recently sent your way?
    Naughty, naughty.

  58. dexter vandango Says:

    For us poor men’s peace of mind (..as if anyone wants to contribute to that..) could we please have some consensus on which names are appropriate to use for female genitals? I’m assuming there may be more than one.. and each is to be used only under specific circumstances. What are they???? Give us a F**king clue! (..I also assume that one or two of them are like the N word.. only members of the tribe are allowed to use them..)

  59. Andra Says:

    Dexter, you’d be better off just not mentioning our private parts at all.

  60. Sister Wolf Says:

    Ann – I like “acrid,” “pungent,” and “sublime.”

    dexter – After deliberating with a friend, I would suggest honeypot or love tunnel.

  61. dexter vandango Says:

    Honey pot? Love tunnel? Forgive me.. but I smell a trap.. wait.. let me rephrase that… see how dangerous words are!
    I’ll bet there were far fewer homicides and divorces when we merely grunted..

  62. Hammie Says:

    Sunnies and Lippie is Australian. As is twisty (twist top beer) surfie (sanitary pad shaped like surf board) roadie (band helper & beer you bring in car for ride home) cossie (swimming costume) scungies (speedo pants) and boardies (board shorts)

  63. Ann Says:

    Hammie – surfie??!! HAHAHAHAHAHA I nearly died laughing at that one! Roadie is a legitimate word and not at all baby talk. That could be because so many of my friends are roadies by profession and also because if I’m not driving, I often have an adult beverage in the car.

  64. Queen Marie Says:

    I detest ‘fulcrum’
    I wish I could explain why I hate it so much.
    But I can’t.
    For some reason it makes me think of decay and bad smells…


  65. David Duff Says:

    Dexter, how about ‘trouble’?

  66. dexter vandango Says:

    Trouble, David?

    There’s a great old rhythm and blues song called “First I look at the purse..” a man’s advice to ignore a woman’s face and look at the contents of her purse first.. which is funny as old English tarts called their privates their purse..

  67. patni Says:

    hammie I do not think i could live in Australia. Inappropriate diminutives are a big pet peeve.

  68. patni Says:

    Dexter, i need to find it again, but there is a web site somewhere with euphemisms for vulva or vagina from romance novels. My favorite was glistening love cave.

  69. dexter vandango Says:

    I think the best euphemism is Garden of Eden.. as it signifies goodness, innocence, purity, fertility, lushness.. and a fresh start to everything..

  70. Danno Says:

    That ‘underwear’ looks sexy and comfy. I recently had a convo with my momma about ‘good christian panties.’ I don’t care what you call them as long as they cover my ass cheeks without leaving lines going cross my jelly butt. I don’t have an aversion to words these days unless I know you’re American and you’re borrowing some foreign lingo.

  71. Danno Says:

    Except for ‘thong’ or ‘g-string’. Ya’ll can be all fashionable and shit but I for one will be flaunting the full coverage and saving my ‘rhoids from a world of hurt. Real women don’t wear thongs. We have more class than that. Hahahahahha.

  72. Kimberley Says:

    I call mine underwear and they are not thongs.
    As kids, we called them gaunch.

  73. David Duff Says:

    But, Danno, my dear old thing, you colonials borrowed our language years ago – and look what you’ve done to it! I mean, what is a “convo” when it’s at home? Anyway, you should be jolly glad that we allow you, from time to time, to borrow one or two of our proper words!

  74. mimi Says:

    sorry im australian and have NEVER in my life heard a sanitary pad referred to as a “surfie”… it could be a generational thing maybe.

    lippie, sunnies, undies (again the reg grundy thing, sounds like a 70/80s reference), frock, thongs (as in flip flops) = all totally normal in australian vernacular.

    i also hate the word “jizz.”

  75. alicia Says:

    I’m the same way with the word “penis.” It’s too medical for me. It doesn’t turn me on. In fact, it makes me want to run far, far away from you. It’s a word associated with doctors, and you know what else is associated with doctors? STDs.

    Oh, and bloggers who refer to their boyfriends as “the boy” can all go away, too.

  76. Debbie Says:

    HATE the word panties. Prefer “underwear”. HATE the word tummy – UGH. Booger – I even hate typing it – HATE HATE HATE that word.

  77. lisa Says:

    Patni – Yes its somewhat difficult to live in Australia for that very reason.
    Lets just say straight out i love living in Melbourne, but my pet hates are they way they shorten everything… especially names for people such as Nazza, dazza, Shazza (ugg i think i just had a little spew in my mouth over that one), kev, trev, Paulie (which isn’t even short for paul, its lengthened for god’s sake), and when people have tried to nickname me ‘robbo’ (my last name being Robinson) i have refussed to answer them… Quite frankly just bad form and complete disregard for the english language.
    Sorry all aussies who read this, i love you really, just not what you do to the english language, it pains me sometimes.

  78. kate Says:

    whenever someone refers to their husband as “the hubby” i picture winnie the pooh. you can have a hubby if you want, i just won’t assume he’s good looking. i’ll think of him as a roly-poly bald guy with red sweaty cheeks a wheezy voice.

  79. Julie Says:

    I too hate hubby, along with sis for sister or sib / sibs for sibling or siblings.
    I can’t bear people who use appalling text speak in normal writing. Today I read ‘ur reli’ something or other instead of ‘you are really’.

    A friend of mine insists on sending emails that are absolutely butchered; nothing but ampersands and tortured abbreviations like abt for about.

  80. Andra Says:

    Hey Lisa
    Love to have you come over after brekky and we’ll have a barby.
    Bring your cossie.

  81. Alicia Says:

    “Pelvis” has always sounded weird to me. I totally agree with the anti- “panties” sentiment.

  82. Danno Says:

    David Duff, you’re a cold tony for calling me a “dear old thing.” (See: Pootie Tang.)
    Yes, look at what we’ve done to the English language. Especially in the southern US where ebonics and plain ol’ bourbon gibberish have melded into a language almost all its’ own.
    “Jolly well” would get some major side eye over here. And just TRY to use “bloody” in the pejorative in a group setting. The subsequent silence would be lethal.
    But hey, thanks for letting us use your proper English. Me talk pretty one day.

  83. Guest Says:


  84. Hammie Says:

    Yay Andra.

  85. Maternity Underwear Says:

    I agree. We feature only ONE product called the “Power Panty” only because it is an actual brand name from Spanx! Nothing worse than a Maternity Panty!

  86. John miller Says:

    Russian aircraft circle Guam and Russian submarines patrol off our coasts.
    Tens of thousands have died in Syria. Iran will soon have the BOMB!

    The United States is spending billions of our grand kids’ money.
    Our defenses will soon be unfunded while our enemies forces are
    increasing and they show the destruction of New York on their
    TV along with pictures of our president going up in flames.

    let us find a suitable name for “panties” before it is too late!

  87. Sister Wolf Says:

    John Miller – Is that what you write about on your own blog? May I have link to it?

Leave a Reply