Unctuous: Food Words We Hate

You might not even be using it correctly.

Because all we do is write about food all day, we have plenty of quality time with certain foods and the words people use to describe them. Usually this is positive. Sometimes, it is not. We've already expounded upon our general distaste for the words moist, nom-nom and foodie. Today, we're here to talk to you about a word that is decidedly more esoteric, but no less revolting. Today's anti-word of the day is unctuous.

Let's get right to it, because we really don't want to have to read or say this word more times today than we really need to. This is a word that people have begun using to mean buttery, luxurious, luscious, creamy, etc. But is that actually what it means? Merriam-Webster defines unctuous thusly:

unctuous: 1. a) fatty, oily b) smooth and greasy in texture or appearance. 2. plastic. 3. full of unction; especially: revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating and false earnestness or spirituality.

Fatty or oily we understand. We suppose that if you have to, you can call pork belly unctuous. But, looking at that definition, can you really say that it sounds like a good thing? To us, it looks like it originates in tricky, slimy and gross. This word is being applied to everything from oysters to panna cotta and we just have to tell you something, even though it is gross and we are sorry to have to do it: the word 'unctuous' just sounds vaguely mucosal and it's grossing us out when you apply it to delicious things.

Like moist, unctuous suffers from a few too many vowels being smashed together unnaturally. Say it aloud, if you can stand it: does it not sound decidedly medical? We appreciate that it is a succinct way to describe a complex mouthfeel, but in our humble opinions, you're doing it wrong. Let's please all work together to find a replacement. And in the meantime, leave our sea urchin and soft boiled eggs out of it, thank you very much.

Is there a food word you hate? Let us know in the comments!

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