26 thoughts on “Lexical-gustatory synaesthesia

  1. Kym DiDonato

    My name is Kym and I am 36 years old. I have “suffered” from the condition of lexical gustatory synaesthesia all of my life. I never even knew that it had a name until last year when I decided to research a little bit. When I was a child I would say words in my mind over and over again just to taste them. These words would actually make my mouth salivate. Just like foods, there are good and bad tasting words. These words do not taste like any food that I have ever had. Each word has a taste unique and of its own. I do not know how I would ever be able to describe the taste of any word because the majority of them do not taste like any food at all. Not even close. I would love to share this “gift” with others, but I am trying to figure out a way to do that and I have had no success so far. If anyone has any suggestions on that, I would be willing to consider it. Being able to taste words had enhanced my life so much that I could not imagine being without it. Some pleasant tasting words are boat, April, cut and computer. Some digusting tasting words are penny, button and flat. I also taste colors and textures as well. They just kind of pop in there in between words. I would like to come back to this site again and hear from other people with this condition as well as ones that don’t. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

  2. Kathy Hansen

    Kym, are you subscribed to the synesthesia list? If not, allow me to suggest that you contact Sean Day at “Sean.Day@tridenttech.edu” and ask to subscribe.

    I had done a little “test” with someone on that list to see if there were any phonological basis for her gustatory synesthesia. While I could find some similarities for a few words (say, two-syllable words with both sibilants and nasals), when tested further with the same, the results were negative: no synesthetic experience.

    Based on comments by others on that list, I cannot see any phonological patterns among the triggers. If a pattern starts to form, it is readily refuted.

    There is apparently a phoneme-triggered synesthesia. I haven’t seen that topic posted since I’ve been on the list. I don’t know if synesthesia researchers have uncovered a pattern there or not.

    By the way, Kym, if you could do a componential analysis on your synesthetic tastes, it might open the door to better communicate your experiences with non-synesthetes and non-gustatory synesthetes.

  3. Kym DiDonato

    I would like to thank you, Kathy for your comment. It was very informative. I have to say that even though there may be some similarities among people with gustatory synaesthesia, I’m sure that we have developed our “condition” to our individual “tastes”(not trying to make a pun) since we were in our childhoods. If you would like, I could give you details about my very first memories of my synaesthesia and how I’ve dealt with it through the years, but only if you are interested. I will, by the way, visit the E mail adress that you have suggested to me. Once again, thank you so much, Kathy. I hope to hear from you again.

    Sincerely, Kym

  4. Emily

    I have a sort of reverse version of this but I can’t find any information on it.
    Whenever I taste certain foods, a random word pops into my head. It’s always the same word for each different food: Cheddar cheese = “life”, green apples = “else”, raw carrot = “talk”, cooked, tinned carrot = “usual” (strange, that!) etc. There are lots more!
    I think it’s only foods I ate when I was a child, which fits with what I’ve heard other synaesthetes say about the condition.
    It can be really frustrating when I taste a food and I feel a word forming in my head, but it’s not a real word, just a jumble of sounds, and I can’t quite identify it or remember it to say it again – I suppose it might be similar to the way in which some words don’t taste like any food you’ve had, Kym, although I wouldn’t know.

  5. Kym DiDonato

    Hi, Emily! Wow! It sounds to me like what you may have is definitely another form of synaesthesia. Since I have written my last comment I have learned so much more about. Believe it or not, our condition really is quite common. I still remember my first synaesthetic experience. I was tw years old and we lived at the house on East 28th St. FI was scared whenever I heard the sound of trains, and we heard them a lot because we lived right next to the tracks. One particular day, I heard the train strart to come, and I sat down on the floor. I bent my knees and grabbed my legs for something to hold on t because I was scared. It was then that I noticed a pungent smell coming from my knees that I have never noticed before. Then I suddenly realised that it wasn’t my knees that I smelled, but the word knee, so I said the word knee over and over inside of my head. The more I would say it, the stronger the taste was inside of my mouth. Soon i forgot about the train and enjoyed this new way to taste. It wasn’t long befor I discovered that other words had a taste to them, too. Well, long story shrort, I am 37 years old now and I haven’t stopped tasting words since. So, how about you, Emily? What was your first experience? Do you enjoy being able to do this or is it a distraction? Hope to hear from you soon.

    Kym D.

  6. hannah

    Hey

    Its so good to find out im not the only one. I had the exact same thing when
    i was younger i used to say the word because over and over again because it
    tastes of marsbar… I still have it now and like you it will never go away
    When people are talking i am tasting the whole time. Other words i love include
    des newyork because thats cheesecake and bus cus that tastes of treo biscuits

    Happy tasting

    Hannah

  7. Kym DiDonato

    Hey, Hannah! It is nice to know that you’re not alone, isn’t it? To think that just a few short years ago I didn’t even know that there was even a name for it or that anyone else in the world had it but me. What’s really so facinating about synaeshesia is that there are so may different forms of it. There are people that see all letters as certain colors, which must really look pretty. There are people that “see” music with swirly colors and/or shapes and sooooo many more forms. None of us can prove to a nonsynaesthete that we can do these things, but there it is. Synaesthesia makes living in this world so interesting. Being able to taste words has enhanced every expeience in my life. I am a cook. I love to cook. Not only can I taste and smell my food, but I can also “taste” the bowl that it was mixed in, the wire whip that I i used to mix the ingredients in and I could go on, and on, and on. Cooking is not just an ordinary experience to me when i indulge in my gustatory senses. That would be my only advice to anyone that is lucky enough to have inherited this cross wiring in the brain that causes this. Just too indulge in the experience and enjoy it. You keep “tasting” New York, Hannah. And I love the idea of cheddar cheese popping up the word life. As a cook, I can appreciate that. Goodbye for now, word tasters and Bon Appetite!

    Kym DiDonato

  8. Kym DiDonato

    Okay, so I’ve had some time to think since I’ve made my last comment on how wonderful my synaesthesia has been to me, and yes, It has been a positive experience for the most part. When i read my own comment I thought to myself, “Damn, Kym, you act like lexical gustatory synaesthesia is like a trip to happy land or something!” That’s when I reflected on my younger years and realized that there was a time when that wasn’t so. Being a synaesthete hasn’t always been easy. Especially during the school years. Actually, my synaesthesia was more of a distraction. For instance, in the first grade I could not for the life of me concentrate on what Miss Landers was telling us about math because all I could think of is how great that piece of bright pink chalk tasted. Not the chalk itself, of course. But the texture, color, and the word chalk tasted so good to me that it made me salivate. The kids would make fun of me because I would “space out” and the teacher would practically have to scream bloody murder to bring me back into this dimension. Even worse, the texture of my skin and the word hand was so tempting to me that I actually developed a habit of (and I’m so embarrassed to say this) licking my hands. And I don’t mean just some of the time, but constantly. I couldn’t help myself no matter who was around. My hands were so chapped from my licking them constantly. To this day, I put my hand up to my mouth so hard to taste it, that it looks like I’m smacking myself in the mouth!(insert laughter here). I have four teenagers, and don’t think that they cut me some slack about doing that, either. When I explain to them about my synaesthesia and that is why I do this, they laugh even harder. I just tell them, “Go ahead and laugh now, but when one of your kids or grandkids possibly inherit this from me, are you going to laugh at them, too?” In unison they tell me, “Yes!” So, if you believe in God as I do, I guess you would say that he does have a sense of humor and synaesthesia is kind of a inside joke on me that only we get. What was a distraction in my school years has become a balanced, healthy and controlled sensation today. I don’t space out when my boss tells me how to do something (although I would like to) and now you know the downside to my syn.

    Kym D.

  9. Audrey

    I can taste people’s names! For example Matthew reminds me of grilled cheese…Erin is a raisin…pretty wild!

  10. Lubi

    MAAAAAAAAAN that is soooooooo cooooooool~!! OMG Im a non-synthethes (typo? lol)
    and I would LOVE TO TASTE STUFF!! Like peoples names or faces or even words. I’m a complete dreamer so when I found out about synaesthesia after reading a novel called “a mango shaped space” I researched it…AND it was just completely out of this world. It’s like synaesthesia is our one link to fantasy and everything that WICKEDLY opposes the reality we’ve all come to live in. What is classified as “Normal”. Except of course for you guys who are ACTUALLY LIVING IT!! Synthethes I mean. I know theres the whole negative side of it too but from what i’ve come to learn about synaesthesia it is not a DISEASE…it’s a blessing..I WOULD LOVE to have a friend or a relative who has synaesthesia of any form. The coolest thing since sliced cheese..lol kidding. And to think theres soooo many out there!! Its utterly utterly amazing. Synthethes ROCK!!!

  11. interested

    Me and my friend are doing a project in school about synaesthesia. We think it is very interesting and would like to learn more about it. But first, would it be possible to interview you? No hard feelings if you reject, and are uncomfortable but we think synaesthesia is a very cool subject! :)

  12. Kym DiDonato

    Hello, Interested! An interview may be a possibility. My sister, of whom is attending college, interviewed me and made an oral report about me and my synaesthesia. I used to beat her up if she said certain words that left a bad taste in my mouth like penny, button and flat. Needless to say her report raised many an eyebrow and there were plenty of questions when she was through.

  13. Rachel Boyea

    Hi, Kym. I’ve been experiencing the same “symptoms” since I was a child and never had any idea until today that it was considered a condition. Though I don’t experience the sensation of a pleasant or foul taste with every word, certain words trigger powerful tastes of salty, sweet, sour, bitter, as well as fluffy, creamy, chunky, stringy, warm, cold, etc. It’s so exciting to find out that someone else shares this experience! Oh, I also sense various tastes with each and every color I see. And I associate numbers with colors; it’s how I used to memorize phone numbers as a child. :)

  14. kym didonato

    Hello, Rachel! I am delighted that you are aware of your synaesthesia now. I believe that I was 34 years old before I found out that this was a condition and that it had a name. Your syn on the other hand is special because it sounds to me like you have two different types. The one where you associate different numbers with colors is called grapheme color synaesthesia. You didn’t mention it, but do you see letters as different colors, too? also, it sounds like you have lexical gustatory synaesthesia at the same time! It’s a great idea to use your synaesthesia as a tool to remember things. I, myself usually use it as a way to “escape” when I am bored. I am on the synaesthesia list. I enjoy reading about others’ experiences and thoughts on this subject. Are you signed up? It is facinating that you have been hit with a genetic double whammy and I’m sure that others would be curious and love to here about it. Thank you for sharing Rachel.

    Kym

  15. Candice

    This is so interesting. I have literally just started looking into this but have had it all my life and I feel now tht I haven’t paid as much attention to it and some of the “sensations” may have faded and it is getting harder to be able to articulate and describe sensations – I almost need someone to randomly give me words and ask me what their taste and texture are like. Emily, yours sounds very interesting – I rarely experience the reverse ie taste to word.
    I’d say 40% of words are very clear though, Tim is corned beef (both taste and texture), so I find it very satisfying and “neat” as everything matches up! However Timothy is a mixture of corned beef and the sensation of feathers on my arm! Strange.
    Or “Max” for example is strange because the texture than the taste. Max tastes something like wafer and the texture is a bit like one but more “solid” and I’m not sure if I have ever tasted or had the proper texture of the word “Max” in reality which is strange as how can you miss what you’ve never had! Alex is a chocolate wafer though…hmmm
    It would be so great to meet up with others who have it and describe things :-)

  16. Karen

    Hi. I’m 46, and I’ve had this all my life. I always thought it was because I learned new words at the dinner table when I was a kid. Some words evoke food tastes, but other words remind of things that one wouldn’t normally eat. Wow, it’s nice to find others with the same experience.

  17. Nemesis

    Just wow. I remember being a dreamy little kid in junior school saying words out loud and tasting foods while pronouncing them.
    I told a friend once. She said it was really weird, and since then, well I kept this think to myself. Until of course, I stumbled upon the term ‘synesthesia’.
    I thought to myself, what do you know, there’s a term for salivating involuntarily when saying a word.
    The tastes never change, and they’re still as vivid as they were.
    For instance, the word ‘Monday’ is related with Kinder egg chocolate, the word ‘moon’ is related with a boiled egg, the word ‘question’ with plain cereal, the word ‘love’ with yoghurt, the word ‘lodge’ with toffee, the word ‘mountain’ with nougat, the list just goes on…

    Indeed. Very mind-boggling.

    I salute all my fellow synesthesiacs.

  18. Karen

    Nemesis,

    Here are what your words “taste” like to me: “Monday” is mayonnaise. “Moon” is canned pears. “Question” is cooked tomatoes. “Love” is a cold hot dog. “Lodge” is pot roast, and “mountain” is a fig newton.

    Word association games take on a whole new meaning, don’t they!

  19. Candice

    “Monday” is like lentils (daal in texture), “Moon” like cold milk chocolate buttons, “Question” is chicken noodle soup, “Love” is almost exactly like strawberry mousse ( “Lovely” is exactly like it). “Lodge” is very dense fudge-cake, “Mountain” is bland and potatoey for me.

    Amazing how they are all completely different.

  20. Elaine

    I’m now 50 and as a young child, one day I realised no one knew what the heck I was talking about? I’d mentioned a food because a word had connected me to that taste and I got a very strange reaction to my comment . . . “But I thought everyone thought that”, I declared. It was only then that I realised it was ‘just me’ and I went on for years thinking it was just a ‘quirk’ of mine. Sometimes it was so strong I couldn’t help but mention it, it was always difficult trying to introduce it into a conversation without being a conversation stopper, accompanied by blank, puzzled looks and wary smiles.
    I did mention it to a very knowledgeable man I knew at work and he too was a little bemused but very interested at the same time.
    No more was said apart from everyone wanting to know what their names tasted of . . . until one day this same man came back to my desk and said he’d heard a radio broadcast about someone who had the same experiences with words as I’d described to him and that the ‘condition’ had a name . . . synaesthesia, I got him to spell it out to me and from then on I was able to research it on the internet and discover others just like me, especially one Mr James Wannerton, he was the one the radio broadcast had been about then I also read a bit in the newspaper about his experience, I made contact with him to discuss our similarities, he’s now the president of the UKSA (United Kingdom Synaesthesia Association) uncanny as it is a couple of our words even taste the same!
    It’s not an every day topic of conversation for me but some days my perceptions are very strong and I might feel the need to mention it if I’m with someone who already knows about my ‘thing’.

  21. Julia

    hi, im pretty sure im a synesthete. when i hear music i see ribbons of color that i see and feel, its like a tapestry. i call it a tapestry of dance because it mostly shows up when im dancing, watching someone dance, or listening to certain music. also i get some color sensations from words and feelings. i am doing a science project right now on synesthesia and i was wondering if anyone knew of any good tests i could use to test for it.

  22. Kym DiDonato

    Hi, Elaine! I was just reading your comment and may I say that I can relate. Also, James W. is an awsome individual. His name tastes like grape jelly to me. His article was the first one that I read when I randomly decided to look up “I taste words” on the web.
    Julia, your brand of synaesthesia facinates me. It sounds like listening to music would be a beautiful experience for you. There are so many different types of syn and you are lucky in my opinion because colored ribbons set to music sounds so beautiful. Let me ask you something, do the colors of ribbons represent different notes? Like, for instance, does blue come up whe a D chord is played or yellow when an E note by itself or an E chord is played? Do certain colors represent certain notes or mixtures of notes? Write back with the answer if you decide to find out. I for one would be interested to know.

    Kym D

  23. Lydia

    I match tastes with words, especially names. Like benjamin is kind of gooey blueberry cake, and rachel is goldfish. The taste isnt actually on my tongue, its more in my head. But its a huge part of me. When i talk or read its like a feast. I told some friends but they thought im crazy :) i guess i kind of am.i love it, but its sometimes problematic, cuz i get hungry all the time wen i hear words. I also match numbers, letters, months, and some words with colors and tastes. For example, april is pink and tastes of spring roll, and six is red and tastes like omelettes. I use the whole color thing to remember phone #s and stuff, like some1 sed earlier. Its so cool to talk to people with the same thing!

  24. bellsy

    I can’t believe there are others like me! I had no idea that synesthesia existed until I read about twins who saw letters and numbers as colored. I associate different food with words eg car is crispy bacon, April is dried apricots on the bitter side, and hand is cheese things. I have some particularly weird things like cat is fat witchery grub. How the hell did that get there? I have never told anyone about it but now that I know there are others I’m going to embrace it.

  25. Rhonda

    My sister can taste names. I thinks it’s cool and wish I could do that. We used to ask her what different people’s named tasted like to her for fun. She doesn’t like being asked about too much though. She has 3 children. Her 4 year old was watching Garfield and when someone said Odie, he asked his mom if they could have macaroni and cheese for supper because Odie is macaroni and cheese. She asked him what he meant and he said Odie tastes like mac and cheese. I’ve read that it synathestesia runs in families. I guess her son inherited it from her. Who knew?

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