This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sunday Rest: humectant. Word Not To Use Today.

Photo of Crest Multicare Whitening Toothpaste by Scott Ehardt. Doesn't it look horrible?

Need to persuade yourself not to consume that pot of instant noodles, or that can of fizz?

Try reading the ingredients on the packaging.

Not entirely coincidentally, that's the most likely place you'll come across the word humectant. Other places you might come across it are in face creams and tobacco products, but you probably won't be much tempted to eat those..

The purpose of a humectant is to keep things just moist enough. Soft raisins will have been treated with a humectant, as will soft ice creams, chocolates with gooey centres, some sorts of cheeses, and the sort of cookies that bend before they break.

Toothpaste has them, too.

Now, I'm not saying humectant isn't a useful word. Humectants are, too, sometimes perfectly harmless things, like honey (though the possibly yummy and nutritious but definitely unappealing-sounding Sodium hexametaphosphate is one too). 

No. All I'm saying is that, especially for something that's found in food, it would be much pleasanter if it didn't sound quite so much like someone throwing up.

Word Not To Use Today: humectant. This word comes from the Lattin ūmectāre, wet, from ūmor, moisture. 

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