Language peeves can develop when a word or phrase becomes, or seems to become, rapidly popular – ongoing, for example. You begin to notice it everywhere, and you say Enough! And then there are usages people dislike for the opposite reason: they’re no longer popular enough. They have become… old-fashioned.
I got to wondering recently about the semantic differences between squishy and squidgy.
For me, squishy is soft and yielding, squishable like a sponge; squidgy refers to something a bit firmer and more malleable, like marla.* Their internal consonant clusters, voiceless -sh- vs. voiced -dg-, reflect this distinction — as with slush vs. sludge.
Curious about how others contrast them, and why, I asked offhand on Twitter, and was gratified by the range and detail of responses. I hadn’t thought much about the words’ emotional connotations: these and other qualities (e.g., relative wetness) recurred in the replies.
The discussion is now up on Storify for convenient reading and reference: ‘Squishy’ vs. ‘squidgy’.
Additional thoughts here or on Twitter would be welcome.
Edit: A recent tweet from @OxfordWords led me to their definition of squeegee, which says its origin is “from archaic squeege ‘to press’, strengthened form of squeeze.” Which seems relevant.
* /’mɔːrlə/ An Irish word for plasticine or modelling clay.