• nauseous •
Pronunciation: naw-zee-ês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Causing an urge to vomit, nauseating. (Most dictionaries would also include "nauseated" as a definition, but see our Notes.)
Notes: Choosing among the various adjectives derived from nauseate is becoming a problem among English speakers. The cause of the urge is either nauseous or nauseating. The experience of nausea leaves you nauseated—not nauseous. A dill pickle with chocolate sauce and whipped cream is nauseous because it nauseates us. We, on the other hand, feel nauseated at the thought of consuming such an 'indelicacy'.
In Play: OK, let's practice the difference we have just learned. "Marge's new perfume is absolutely nauseous; I feel nauseated every time I smell it." Certain types of motion can nauseate us, too: "The drive up Pike's Peak was so nauseous I threw up when we reached the top." That's enough; I find writing about such things is nauseous.
Word History: Of course, nothing is more likely to nauseate us than sailing on a ship, so wouldn't you just know that nausea is based on the Greek word naus "ship". Nausia (or nautia) in Greek meant "seasickness". English nautical is based on a derivation of naus, nautes "sailor". This same PIE word turned up in Latin as navis "ship", from which English navy and naval are derived. Latin also made a verb out of navis, navigare "to sail", from which we derived navigate. (We are happy that Rogers George managed to sail today's Good Word to us without any ill effects.)