Sounds Right

This is clearly subjective, but some words really sound like the thing they describe (personal favorites: puffin; bulbous; fidgeting). Do you have an example of such a word (or, alternatively, of a word that sounds like the exact opposite of what it refers to)? What do you think creates this effect?

I started this post thinking I would be able to look up a real, scientific/psychological reason why we feel like some words sound how they mean, but it turns out there are none. All you get when you try to explain this odd phenomenon to Google is onomatopoeia, which is not an odd phenomenon at all.

So without any scientific explanation at all, I’ll put out there that the word “squelch” sounds exactly like the thing it is describing. It’s possible I’ve spent way too much of my life swimming and around water, so I hear the squelches of feet in soaked shoes a lot. Squelch. The sound is like squeaks to my ears; a shiver runs down my spine and for a moment, I’m incredibly uncomfortable.

It’s no wonder I only get in the pool to teach kids at my job now.

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