The world of words, reading and writing

Words that Sound and Look Ugly

Words are beautiful. They allow us to communicate, to write, to speak, to sing, to read. Oh, what beauty pervades a word! Sure, words are a beautiful concept but there exists some words that are just plain ugly. I’m not talking about words with ugly connotations like pus or scum. I’m talking about words that are totally innocent in meaning but just look or sound totally disgusting. They don’t sit right with me: they have awkward phonetics or an odd conglomeration of letters. There’s just something about them that is cringe-inducing.


This just looks so wrong. There’s nothing particularly offensive when saying it, but the problem lies in the rift between how it is sounded and how it is spelt. I would much rather it be spelt ‘freeyer’. Also, the ‘fr’ sound is such as awkward one that makes words like Frack and Fructose ugly. These words are perhaps worse because they are paired with the harsh ‘k’ sound.


Again, this looks so wrongly spelt. Actually, spelt sounds really stupid now.



I hate that this word isn’t hyphenated. The rule of hyphens is usually that when a single-syllable prefix ends with the same vowel as the word starts with, you hyphenate it. So you have ‘de-emphasise’ or re-enter’. For some foolish reason this doesn’t apply to doubled up o’s. It looks like someone’s had a really bad go at spelling recuperate and it annoys me fiercely. Similarly, I hate Unselfconsciously. This word needs some serious hyphenation!



Too many hissing s’s, not to mention that ‘o’. What does it think it’s doing there?


This word means to destroy or remove, so why not just use ‘elimination’? There’s just something utterly ridiculous about this word. I’m probably cheating by including it because I can’t help thinking of it as some bastard conglomeration of ‘turnip’, ‘derp’ and ‘constipation’.



I have no problem with ‘utter’ so I’m not entirely sure why I don’t like this word. It’s udder madness!


I hate that ‘pew’ sound. It’s nothing anti-religious but pew is ew.


It’s the ‘oi’ at the start. You can’t sound distinguished when you start by saying ‘oi’.


Seriously, the ‘k’ sound is so harsh and that ‘dg’ sound just makes it worse. I think that’s part of why ‘cunt’ is so offensive. It’s blunt. A blunt cunt. But for one of the most harshly-sounding words, I would go with conk. The bookending of that ‘k’ sound is guttural and the ‘nk’ makes this strange restrictive feel on the back of your throat.



The ugliness of this word probably comes from my difficulty in saying it. It’s basically just ‘draw’ but then it hangs around for too long. If I’m going to include words that are hell to say then I would have to add Texts. Maybe it’s just me but there’s no way of adding in that second ‘t’ without it sounding horrible, splitting up the word and adding a second syllable. I had to suffer through innumerable English classes trying to vomit out that word. That second ‘t’ has no place being there. Imagine if you put a ‘t’ in ‘checks’. Checkts. See, awful.

I suppose I should also mention Moist. It’s such an ugly word, in fact it’s recognised as the ugliest word in the English language. As much as I dislike the word I wouldn’t include it on this list because I think it mostly has to do with connotation. Sure, it has that ‘oi’ sound and the abrupt ‘t’ ending, but I think the problem comes from visualising what moist represents. I don’t have a problem with a moist cake but a moist tissue or a moist carpet? I think I’m going to be sick.

What about you? Are there any words you just can’t stand?


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3 thoughts on “Words that Sound and Look Ugly

  1. I thought I was the only person who had trouble pronouncing “drawer.” I always attributed it to growing up in Boston, where words ending in “er” tended to end in “ah” when spoken. To this day I cannot get the “er” out of my mouth when trying to say “drawer.” My children think it’s hilarious.

    • I can only ever manage ‘drawrer’ or ‘drawrrrr’. At least I know I’m not alone in my frustration over difficult-to-pronounce words. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Jay Vissers on said:

    I’m so glad someone else feels this way (and this strongly) about the pure sounds of words, divorced from their meanings. To me, just like certain textures or smells, certain words are abominably ugly. For example, the name Keck simply assaults the ear: short, brutal and harsh. Other sonic horrors include “peripatetic” (a crush-together of paralyzed and pathetic), “picaresque” (like a mispronunciation of picturesque), “paraclete” (a pair of football shoes?), and the (unfortunately real) names Glawogger (how do you glawog?), Theffo (a name for a Hobbit), Ludlum (the sound of a big, heavy object falling to the floor in the apartment above you), Bogucki (booger that’s ucky), Dismas (dismal Christmas), Dundas (dumb-ass), Huxtable (where Mr. Finn and Jim ate on the raft) and Rebstock (the back end of a Confederate’s rifle).

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