Are you nauseous?

I’m not nauseous, but I am a bit headachy and sneezy. But that’s not what I came here to blog about.

I’m working on a manuscript that takes place within he healthcare field, and I got a little suspicious about whether the word “nauseated” was being used correctly. So I learned the difference between nauseous and nauseated once and for all!

1. Nauseous – is a feeling. “I’m nauseous.”

2. Nauseated – is something that someone or something does to you: “Those pickles nauseate me.”

As for me? I’m glad my cold isn’t making me feel nauseous. I’m also glad the cold doesn’t nauseate me. (How’s that for redundancy?)

And, by the way, it’s a LONG manuscript, so no more blogging from me today.

ETA: Heh, never mind, a commenter and the dictionary set me straight on this one. My next post will be about credible sources. 😉 From a more official source (the Merriam-Webster Dictionary):

Main Entry:
nau·seous           Listen to the pronunciation of nauseous           Listen to the pronunciation of nauseous
\ˈn-shəs, ˈn-zē-əs\
1 : causing nausea or disgust : nauseating 2 : affected with nausea or disgust
nau·seous·ly adverb
nau·seous·ness noun
usage Those who insist that nauseous can properly be used only in sense 1 and that in sense 2 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.

6 Responses to Are you nauseous?

  1. Jenny says:

    Au contraire! While technically “nauseous” can mean “causing nausea” or “being affected by nausea,” most would argue that nauseous should be confined to something causing nausea. (See, or rent “Never Been Kissed,” LOL!)

    “Nauseated” technically means the same thing, but is more commonly used to describe being affected with nausea. So, I can say that I feel nauseated without the majority of English teachers or Drew Barrymore fans jumping all over my back. ;-D

    Of course, most people use the term “nauseating” to describe what they find “nauseous,” so maybe it would be better to do away with those words altogether and just say that the thought of all those different style guidelines we writers are supposed to be familiar with makes me queasy. 😉

    • For some reason, the dictionary link in the comment wasn’t working, so I added the Merriam-Webster version, which seems about as inconclusive as everything else. 😉 And I actually rented “Never Been Kissed” about a month ago — I found it to be extremely nauseous (that’s right? it just sounds so wrong!)

      • Keir says:

        The mental image I get from this is of a videocassette vomiting out its magnetic tape. It may be historically correct, but I think the word has mostly evolved beyond that definition in this country. Maybe it hasn’t in the medical world and/or other countries though. You should ask some health care workers and foreigners how they use the word.

  2. Jenny says:

    LOL, you found Never Been Kissed nauseous? (It DOES sound wrong!) I love that movie–although I have to say my adoration for it is based entirely on Drew Barrymore’s brilliant performance. It was painful to watch–no one does awkward like Drew Barrymore!!!

  3. Jenny says:

    P.S. I forgot to mention, I’ve been pondering the irony of you, of all people, editing a novel so full of terms relating to vomit. Hmm. Happy day. Hope they’re paying you well. ;-D

    • Ha, yeah, this novel includes lots of GRAPHIC descriptions of vomiting and vomit. It took me a while to get up the appetite to take a break for lunch yesterday. Thanks for your support. 😉

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