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The other day I was talking with my girlfriend who is a non-English speaker. She told me she tried Listerine mouthwash but found it too "spicy." I went to correct her but realized that I didn't have a word for this flavor. Is she right: Can we describe the taste of alcohol-based mouth wash as "spicy"?

If not, what would be an appropriate word for this taste?

(I assume that taste is not purely subjective and that people's tastes of Listerine converge to some extent. I trust that those of you who have tried Listerine know the taste I'm referring to.)

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Oct 22 '16 at 2:18
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Perhaps not a word in the dictionary, but it is used often to describe Listerine: mediciney.

Marketers at Procter & Gamble knew that their formulation killed germs just like Listerine did. But Scope’s secret ingredient wasn’t its cetylpyridinium chloride or domiphen bromide. It was a marketing term—“mediciney”—that hit Listerine where it hurt. 

From http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/perspective-big-kiss-146411

  • This has the beginnings of a good answer, but is incomplete. The textbook spelling (literally, as in the spelling you will find in advertising and marketing textbooks) is mediciney, to start. – choster Oct 21 '16 at 23:36
  • @choster I added a usage. Even with the spelling you suggest, I wasn't able to find a dictionary definition. – Fuhrmanator Oct 21 '16 at 23:48
  • However, saying too mediciney doesn't accurately convey the impression that it's too strong. – CJ Dennis Oct 22 '16 at 0:27
  • -1 another problem is that the Scope commercial deliberately uses a word (mediciney) that is meant to sound negative. – AmE speaker Jul 24 '18 at 22:10
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I would pick FF's astringent (Oxford):

2.1(of taste or smell) sharp or bitter.

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I tried Listerine mouthwash but found it too intense.

intense

  • Extreme in degree; excessive
  • Extreme in size or strength

intense on Wikipedia

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Many people I know have said that Listerine stings.

M-W:

sting: to affect with sharp quick pain or smart

Once you get used to using Listerine, it no longer stings as much.

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I'd rather use "stingy." It's like chewing mentos and drinking hot water.

  • "Stingy" as in "stinging" or as in "parsimonious"? – Sven Yargs Jul 25 '18 at 0:56
  • Stingy as in comes with a sting or quick pain but as mentioned below, one can get used to it. – glennpRof Jul 25 '18 at 6:46

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