Top 10 Words That Sound Dirty But Aren’t

None of the following words are as naughty as they sound, although they may elicit a few snickers. In fact, the list is even safe to read at work, although if you intend to read it aloud, please warn anyone within earshot to take their minds out of the gutter.


10. Pianist

A pianist playing the piano

A pianist playing the piano

There’s a reason that Billy Joel named his popular song “Piano Man” instead of “The Pianist.” While the profession is admired, with concert pianists filling halls worldwide, the name for someone who plays a piano can be easily misunderstood. If not, there would be no such joke as the one about the genie and the tiny piano player.


9. Angina

Diagram of the heart

A diagram of the heart

Professional humor writers (and The American Heart Association) will tell you: nothing is funny about a heart attack… unless Redd Foxx is faking one, or unless you say the medical term for the chest pain that indicates a heart attack, angina. Add to that the medical term for a heart attack, myocardial infarction, and generations of students have giggled over their biology books while reading the section about coronary health.


8. Clematis



Despite the suggestive-sounding name, if your gardener asks you what you’d like him to do with your clematis, he is not propositioning you. He is referring to one of 300 species within the buttercup family. The climbing vines have flowers in a variety of shapes and colors and, depending on the exact species, can flourish in spring, summer or fall. Their common name, Traveler’s Joy, may also make the naughty-minded snicker, but at least it doesn’t sound like a part of the female anatomy.


7. Organism


An Astrolithium, a marine microorganism, by David Patterson, micro*scope for National Geographic

All living creatures on earth are organisms, from single-celled microorganisms to horses, elephants, and humans. Even plants are organisms, which means it’s safe to say that everybody, everywhere loves an organism. And as long as you keep that important third syllable in there, you can even use that sentence in front of your grandmother!


6. Coccyx


A diagram of the lower part of the spinal colum , showing the coccyx

It’s bad enough injuring your tailbone: falling in a straight-up seated position can result in a very painful, slow recovery. If you’re unfortunate enough to have this happen to you, not only can look forward to months of sitting on a donut pillow, but then you also have the additional discomfort of telling people you have a pain in your coccyx. No wonder most people just say “tailbone.”

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