One of the things they talked about yesterday on Word of Mouth on BBC Radio 4 was onomatophobhia, the fear or dread of certain words or phrases. They interviewed people who go out of their way to avoid hearing or seeing particular words, in most cases as a result of negative and/or traumatic associations with those words. There was also a man who finds it very difficult to say his own name for fear of mispronouncing it.

Like most phobia words, onomatophobia comes from Greek ὀνομα (onoma) – ‘name’ and φοβυς (phobus) – ‘fear’.

Are there any words that you avoid and/or dislike intensely?

There are many interesting phobias listed at thefreedictionary.com, including:

  • Anatidaephobia – fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you
  • Luposlipaphobia – the fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a newly-waxed floor.

Both were made up by Gary Larson for his The Far Side cartoons.

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

9 Responses to Onomatophobia

  1. Mike says:

    My family and Gary Larson’s are old friends. They were at my grandfather’s 80th birthday a couple years back.

    Anyway, I coined a new phobia word a while ago: felinaniculaphobia – fear of little old ladies with lots of cats.

  2. TJ says:

    Well, it’s all about fear … but what if you get angry suddenly for hearing certain nouns or names?

    I personally don’t feel comfortable and sometimes try hard to control my tongue when I hear words like: cars … police … ministry of interior
    I don’t know if it is called phobia, but it is not fear as much as it is a rage .. willing to punch every cop I see for example when I hear the word “police” and so on!

  3. FollyBooks says:

    I just LOVE your site. I wish we could swap lives and I had your site and could speak Mandarin fluently. And these words “fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you”…. they are just so funny. Wikipedia has also a long list of them and they always make me laugh.

  4. AR says:

    No offense, but that was a weird comment.
    Anyway, phobias don’t get as strange as some -ism’s do. See the Wikipedia list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Isms.

  5. Adam says:

    Also…you can turn any -phobia into a -philia or a -mania. It can make for some interesting afflictions.

  6. G says:

    Anatidaephobia is certainly what many citizens of Poland are experiencing right now!

  7. Follybooks says:

    To AR:

    Why was my comment weird?

  8. Amie says:

    Hey! Dont mock the duck phobia! my friend has it! Gawsh

  9. LeAnne says:

    Me scary of mucho ducks

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