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Proper Use of the Word Moisture: A Primer for Utah Mormons

By: Artemis Lucky - March 29, 2014

Let’s start with a definition.

Moisture: Water or other liquid diffused in a small quantity as vapor, within a solid, or condensed on a surface.

Here are some sample sentences which show the appropriate use of moisture.

A sheet of kitchen towel placed in the bag will help to absorb any moisture.
The inner layer wicks moisture to the outer layer where it is dissipated.
Trapped moisture on the floor covering is a breeding ground for micro-organisms.
Indirect lateral ventilation prevents formation of condensed moisture inside the goggles.
Moisture absorption inhibits gluten formation.
Cylinders are first heated to drive off any residual moisture.

Here is a sample sentence which shows an inappropriate use of moisture:

“We’re thankful for the moisture we have received.”

When someone says this, they are almost always referring to precipitation. (Of course, it’s always possible that a person would say this after eating a particularly moist slice of chocolate cake, but that would be exceedingly weird. It would also be astoundingly weird to give thanks in this way for someone’s sweaty feet, but that would also be considered an appropriate use of moisture).

When you wish to express gratitude for rain or snow, try one of the following:

We’re thankful for the rain/snow we have received.

or

We are indeed thankful for the precipitation we have received.

Take home activity

Say moisture twenty times in a row. Listen to how weird it sounds. It will actually go weird on you around the seventh repetition, but go to twenty for good measure.

-oooOooo-

“Artemis Lucky” is a Utah mother/son comedy duo. We hope to hear more from them!



22 Comments »

  1. Oh, this has bothered me for years! I live near that awful mud slide in Washington State, where 126+ people are Gone or missing. The newscasters keep saying the hillside was brought down by Excessive Moisture. That’s like saying Hiroshima was dsistroyed by a “small pop.” Stop it, already!

    Comment by deb — March 29, 2014 @ 7:00 am

  2. From the defunct Sugar Beet.

    Man Chastised for Improper Precipitation Reference in Prayer
    By Rod Miller
    CENTERVILLE, UT—The good standing of Leon Christensen, 51, of the Parrish Lane 14th Ward, appears uncertain following a benediction-related incident in sacrament meeting last Sunday.
    Christensen, a convert and a ward member since 1997, expressed his thanks during the closing prayer for recent precipitation. “We thank Thee,” he said, “for the abundant rains we received these past weeks and for the blanket of snow that now covers Thy majestic mountain peaks.”
    “I’ve never heard the like in all my 87 years in the Lord’s church,” said Asa Broadwater, lifelong resident and former Sunday school superintendent. “There are certain standards we’re expected to uphold, and Christensen’s conduct flies in the face of it,” Broadwater continued, leaving out the “Brother” he typically includes when referring to fellow priesthood holders.
    “Rain?” blustered Althea Loudermilk, Young Women president. “Snow? Everyone knows—or ought to—that ‘moisture’ is the proper term in prayer! Moisture, plain and simple! That’s the language the Lord has specified.”
    Loudermilk conceded that Christensen is a convert. “But still, we can’t allow our youth to be compromised by exposure to such lax standards,” she said. “Brother Christensen has offended many, and I expect to hear an apology from the pulpit come next fast and testimony meeting.”
    Following his benediction, Christensen was immediately escorted into the bishop’s office, where he was presumably reproved with sharpness and taught the correct order of prayer. Neither the bishop nor his counselors would comment, citing confidentiality. The second counselor was overheard, however, assuring irate ward members that “it won’t happen again.”

    Comment by Ben S — March 29, 2014 @ 7:10 am

  3. You are using a very simple definition of moisture. A more practical definition is “enough liquid to moisten” If you are talking about the dirt in your town, the amount of liquid to moisten that ground isn’t really a small amount. How much it takes to moisten is relative to the thing you are moistening.

    In the construction industry a common term is “moisture barrier.” A moisture barrier isn’t usually about keeping a small amount of liquid on the other side of the basement. It is about keeping your basement from getting flooded by the rainstorm.

    In watershed management they talk about antecedent moisture which is how much water is held in the soil and how that affects run-off.

    Utah Mormon’s come from a bunch of farmers. Farmer’s talk about how much moisture is in the soil. That is a completely legitimate use of the term moisture. The person praying that they are thankful for moisture isn’t thankful for the water as it exists in the sky. They are thankful for the water in the soil and what it does for the crops. It might sound weird to your urbanized, not farmer ears, but that doesn’t make it incorrect.

    Comment by anonymous — March 29, 2014 @ 8:21 am

  4. I’ve commented before about missionaries from the dry country who come here to Louisiana and thank the Lord profusely for the moisture as if we’d just broken a long drought. Whether we pray for it or not, the Lord blesses us with all the moisture we need, thanks. Yesterday in fact, the Lord blessed us with enough moisture to result in flash flooding. A few years ago, some of our ward members had several feet of moisture in their living rooms.

    Next time I’m in Utah, I’m going to pray that we won’t have a winter freeze that would affect the crawfish season.

    Comment by Left Field — March 29, 2014 @ 8:56 am

  5. When I was on my Mission in Germany, I liked to use the word feuchtigheit in my prayer s among fellow missionaries. It was a joke and possibly irreverent, but always made me smile.

    Comment by steve — March 29, 2014 @ 9:36 am

  6. As long as we’re poling fu at idioms, how about “no harm or accident fall upon us” or the absurdity of blessing stale cookings and Kool-Aid that it will “nourish and strengthen our bodies”?

    Sometime I think Mormons have an unwritten Common Book of Prayer…

    Comment by The Other Clark — March 29, 2014 @ 10:19 am

  7. Dear kind and gracious anonymous,

    We are so thankful for your comment which we have had the opportunity to receive today and all the preparation that went into it. We are indeed mindful of the farmers and their dear, sweet wives who will be blessed by the knowledge that their prayer-time usage is appropriate. Please continue to help us have greater understanding of “moisture” and to use it more often in our daily lives.

    It is our hope that those who didn’t see your blog comment this week can see it next week.

    We also hope that at the conclusion of these blog posts all readers can return to their non-blog related activities in safety and that no harm or accident will befall them.

    Comment by Artemis Lucky — March 29, 2014 @ 10:29 am

  8. I’m glad you appreciate the comment. Now we can move on to how the phrasing while not inaccurate is stilted, awkward, and overused. It is also apparently widely misunderstood to reference precipitation and not merely one of the desirable results of precipitation and therefore should be avoided. I look forward to the upcoming Prayer Style Guide that will be forthcoming from the correlation committee.

    Comment by anonymous — March 29, 2014 @ 10:54 am

  9. We are so thankful for your comment which we have had the opportunity to receive today…

    No! No! No!

    The proper prayer language is “…which we have had the opportunity to receive THIS day.”

    Comment by Left Field — March 29, 2014 @ 11:25 am

  10. Left Field–I do hope you have a great crawfish season. My husband grew up in Louisiana, and they did, indeed, pray for things besides rain. I moved to Utah in the past year, and this winter we were all asked to fast and pray for precipitation, rain, snow, sleet, what have you. So we did, and by the next week, several basements were flooded. If this ever happens again, I intend to exercise my faith by helping my neighbors sandbag their basements the day before Fast Sunday instead of the week after.

    Comment by LauraN — March 29, 2014 @ 11:49 am

  11. “In that country the moisture, the bounty of Heaven, is given but at a certain season. . . The Gentus preserved, with a provident and religious care, the precious deposit of the periodical rain in reservoirs, many of them works of royal grandeur” –Edmund Burke

    “March was wetter and much colder than normal. Exactly one inch of moisture fell in Glasgow this past month.” –National Weather Service

    “Finally, the month’s largest precipitation event came on the 27th when an average of 1.22 inches of moisture fell over the state.” –Iowa Department of Agriculture

    “In South West England, most of the moisture fell as rain.” –Birmingham Mail

    “Near normal moisture fell in January, only to be followed by robust precipitation in February.” –University of Nebraska CropWatch

    “For most of history, thirsty humans made do with what moisture fell from above” –Christian Science Monitor

    “Considerably less moisture fell to the west, with only 0.40″ at Mount Olive (Morris), 0.47″ in Pittstown (Hunterdon), and 0.50″ in Greenwich (Warren).” –New Jersey State Climatologist

    Comment by Nathan Whilk — March 29, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

  12. Thanks so much Nathan. Clearly we have work to do. This misunderstanding of the appropriate use of moisture is more widespread than we feared. Glasgow, Iowa, Birmingham, Nebraska, New Jersey, Christian Science Monitor (gasp!)–where to begin? We trust that your interest will help us spread the good word (s?). Please contact the aforementioned offenders and walk them through the take home exercise in the main post.

    By the way, we love how exact the “moisture” measurements are in Glasgow. Exactly one inch is a measurement to be proud of.

    Edmund Burke is blessed to have such a wonderful moisturizer in the bounty of heaven.

    Comment by Artemis Lucky — March 29, 2014 @ 12:52 pm

  13. This post is just… just a wonderful post.

    Comment by JB — March 29, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

  14. Ardis,

    Have you seen this BYU comedy video “Vain Repetitions”? They spoof all of the silly things we Mormons tend to say in our public prayers without really thinking about what they mean. Some of the lines include, “These refreshments, they’re nourishing and strengthening my body!” And in relation to your post someone points up and says, “What’s that , falling from the sky, ITS MOISTURE, ITS MOISTUREING!!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl3gJqiC5ps

    Comment by andrew h — March 29, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

  15. Oh, thanks for this article. I cringe every time I hear that word in a prayer.

    Comment by Kris — March 29, 2014 @ 7:13 pm

  16. Having just returned from a trip through Louisiana and Mississippi, must say I was once again astonished at the amount of, er, water lying around just about everywhere, as compared to the situation where I live in the Great Basin.

    Here in Utah, the use of ‘moisture’ does seem appropriate, since mostly there isn’t too much of it.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — March 29, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

  17. Thanks a lot! I just read this out loud and now we can’t have family prayer because we keep laughing.

    Comment by Carol — March 29, 2014 @ 9:12 pm

  18. Excellent, all!

    Comment by David Y. — March 30, 2014 @ 12:53 am

  19. My sister attending a sacrament meeting at which a speaker repeatedly pounded the pulpit, demanding, “Knowest thou the condensation of Christ?”

    Is that another kind of moisture we’re grateful for?

    Comment by LauraN — March 30, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

  20. Mine eyes are moist.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — April 1, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

  21. Ever since my husband and I moved to Utah we have laughed at the (over)use of the word moisture. So, this is all good, and verily, mine eyes are also moist! (Thanks, Stephen, for best comment of the post.)

    Comment by Nancy — April 3, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

  22. We need to combine odd terms since being thankful for just plain old moisture, as evidenced by the comments here, is getting kind of stale.

    Start thanking heaven for the supernal moisture we have received…that should revitalize things and up the ante at the same time.

    Comment by KLC — April 4, 2014 @ 8:50 am

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