…and the words the world just can’t abide

The British Council’s 75th anniversary poll of its students’ English language preferences also surveyed their least favoured words. The 10 most disliked English words were:

  1. Cancer
  2. Racism
  3. Corruption
  4. Terrorism
  5. Slavery
  6. Flatulence
  7. Killing
  8. Study
  9. Herringbone
  10. Fail

Pretty understandable choices, although flatulence seems a far lesser evil compared with others on the list.

But you can’t help but wonder why herringbone was included. Sartorial considerations? Memories of itchy tweed jackets? Or of almost choking to death on an actual bone of an actual herring?

Hotel, the 21st least favoured word, is equally puzzling to me, as is scissors, at 73. Any thoughts?

By Marian Dougan


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