• queasy •
Pronunciation: kwee-zee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Slightly nauseated, having an upset stomach, giddy in the stomach, as 'to feel queasy after eating greasy food'. 2. Delicate, sensitive, squeamish, easily upset by something, as 'to get queasy at the sight of blood'. 3. Squishy, as 'queasy footing in a bog'.
Notes: Today's Good Word comes with an adverb, queasily, and a noun, queasiness. In terms of meaning, it stands somewhere between squeamish and nauseated. Squeamish refers to a supersensitivity to something while nauseated implies physical sickness caused by an upset stomach.
In Play: Queasiness is the slightest sense of nausea, a kind of pre-nausea: "I get queasy just thinking about riding a rollercoaster." We get this feeling under a wide variety of circumstances: "I'm not a squeamish person, but the sight of Lance Sterling's greasy hair makes me a little queasy." Don't forget the third sense of today's word, which is on firm ground in the English vocabulary: "California sits on rather queasy ground with the San Andreas fault running under it."
Word History: No one really knows where today's Good Word came from. We are not even sure if it is a native Germanic word or another French borrowing. In Middle English it was sometimes spelled coyse, suggesting a relation to Old French coisié "wounded". However, it has been spelled with a K or QU far more often, suggesting a relation to Swedish (a Germanic language related to English) kwäsa "to humble, stifle, suppress". The Old French word is a descendant of Latin coquere "to cook", the ultimate source of English cook. The meanings are a bit far-fetched and ironic if the word for cook changed into the word for suffering from consuming that which is cooked. (We would, indeed, be on queasy ground were we to forget to thank John Manson for suggesting today's very Good Word.)