Monthly Archives: July 2015

I’m nauseous like curdled mac and cheese.

I heard a rumor that “I am nauseous” means you cause nausea in other people. So, “Like rotten meat, I inspire nausea in other people.” Tickled by this information, M and I spent a wonderful afternoon trying to one-up each other’s metaphors.

“I’m nauseous like rotten mac and cheese.”

“I’m nauseous like puppy diarrhea.”

“I’m nauseous like toe fungi.”

“Like a dog puking.”

“Then eating its puke.”

“Like exercising too much.”

“Like burnt coffee.”

“Like turds.”

I figured now would be a great time to crusade against the incorrect use of the word nauseous, but before I did, I checked my facts. And thank God I did. I’m a one source wonder (Merriam Webster), victim of confirmation bias (it’s as I thought!), and hold to the idea that language is fluid and common usage should be respected. So, take what you will from this.

From Merriam Webster online:

“Those who insist that nauseous can properly be used only in sense 1 (causing nausea or disgust) and that in sense 2 (affected with nausea or disgust) it is an error for nauseated are mistaken. Current evidence shows these facts: nauseous is most frequently used to mean physically affected with nausea, usually after a linking verb such as feel or become; figurative use is quite a bit less frequent. Use of nauseous in sense 1 is much more often figurative than literal, and this use appears to be losing ground to nauseating. Nauseated is used more widely than nauseous in sense 2.”

If you’re having trouble parsing that, no worries. I did, too. Basically it means, I was wrong. (It’s surprisingly hard to type that.)

The more colloquially favored “I am nauseous” can mean that you’re feeling nauseated. It’s totally acceptable. And people who say it can’t be used that way (me, for example) are stuck-up buttholes who need to get a life.

But this is all taken from the dictionary that claims ‘octopodes’ can be the plural of octopus, so there’s that.

Merriam Webster’s Entry on Nauseous

More information on nauseous/nauseated from Grammar Girl and The Grammarist.