words, words words

There have been gentle protestations.

The word “mucus,” you see. People don’t like it much.


I grew up in a family that made noise – highly verbal musicians, all of them, and prone to paying attention to the way things sound. My sister would sit at the dinner table and say things like, “Spackle is a funny word. Spackle. Spackle. Saaaaalve. Spackle.”

Just recently, indeed, I read (in a novel) a passage about knitting and saw the word “snorts;” for a brief moment I failed to recognize the word and thought it was a technical knitting term, like purl, and I thought, “snort. What a great word! Snort snort snort.”

So it’s not just that I like the word mucus (mucus. mucus.), it’s that I like words, altogether.

Still, even with my well-nurtured linguistic weirdness… You know, dearies, a sociologist once told me of a study that asked people who spoke no English to rank the beauty of English words, based solely on their sounds. The most beautiful word, without reference to meaning?


This contrasts sharply with the most beautiful English words as ranked by English speakers and students of English: mother, passion, and smile top the list.

What I’m saying here is that I think it’s just possible that some of the objection to the word “mucus” is, on some level, an objection to the thing it refers to. It could also be that people object to the word because it is more often used to refer to nasal mucus, and nasal mucus is so often associated with illness… but I can’t entirely quieten the voice in my gut that says… if they really liked the fluid itself, it would hardly matter what it was called. A rose by another other name, ya know? So mucus does, though it be mucus called, retain that dear perfection which it owes without that title.

Most of us are aware that context shapes our sensory perceptions – by which I mean a rose by any other name may very well NOT smell as sweet, if you tell a person ahead of time that what they’re about to smell is not a rose but instead rotting chicken shit. This can happen quite literally. Put butyric acid in a jar and label it “cheese” and people will say, “ah lovely! cheese!” Same jar, same acid, label it “vomit,” and people will whip their noses away in disgust. Same chemical, different name, different aesthetic experience.

The way we categorize our sensory perceptions changes how we experience them.

So, we could try to find a new word – fluid? wetness? moisture? effluvia? (no!) cheese? drippings? dampness? excretions? va-juice? the sog? girl ooze? I just… I’d rather reclaim mucus, make it beautiful and empowering, like dyke or cunt or fuck. Shall we be offended and icked-out? Or shall we say, “Right on! Dyke! Cunt! Fuck!”

(NOTE: IRL, I swear even more than on the blog. I like words.)

I stand by mucus – both the substance and the word. Maybe it wasn’t blessed with a mellifluous name like diarrhea or hippopotamus (#52 on the most beautiful word list, btw), but I defy anyone who’s loved a woman to deny that cervical mucus is invested with every single one of the top 10 most beautiful words in the English language – and those are the words I hear when I hear mucus. Read ‘em slow so they roll around like wine:

Mother. Passion. Smile. Love. Eternity. Fantastic. Destiny. Freedom. Liberty. Tranquillity.