Not Feeling So Well?

Home from work? Not feeling so hot? Perhaps you are you nauseated. Or is it nauseous?

It is a fair question. Not too long ago, those two words—nauseated and nauseous—meant two different things. Careful writers may wish to preserve the difference.

If something is disgusting and makes you feel sick, it is “nauseous,” that is, causing nausea. When you feel nausea, you are “nauseated.” That’s the distinction.

That said, “nauseous” is well on its way to replace “nauseated” in common parlance, as well as popular writing, especially on television. This is how language evolves. It is unfortunate only because now we have to find something else that means “causing nausea.”

We suggest maintaining the distinction, unless you are writing dialog for popular media. In that case, consider using “nauseous” to mean “nauseated.” Your editor may or may not call you on it, but if you are using it consciously, it is your decision. Even if it makes your editor nauseated.

–Michael Fink

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