• vomitory •
vah-mê-tor-ee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: No, we are not talking about a dormitory on house party weekend; this word refers to: 1. A tunnel or passageway leading out of the seating area of a stadium or amphitheater. 2. A discharge outlet of any kind.
Notes: We haven't had a word that isn't what it seems for a long time, so today we have one. Although it may be used as an adjective referring to throwing up, as a noun (for reasons laid out in the Word History), it refers only to passages or openings for the discharge of people, substances, and other things. The adjective for this noun is vomitorial (as in 'vomitorial capacity'), and the noun itself is sometimes replaced by the original Latin word, vomitorium, especially when referring to the vomitories of Greek and Roman amphitheaters. (The picture illustrates a Roman amphitheater honey-combed with vomitories.)
In Play: English needs a word that names passages specifically designated to discharge spectators, so why not restore this one to its former glory? "Bill left the stadium early so as not to be crushed in vomitories packed with fans once the game is over." However, this word fits any outlet for the discharge of pretty much anything: "During a rainstorm, downspouts become the primary vomitories of rainwater cascading down the roof of a building."
Word History: Today's Good Word is the locative noun from Latin vomitare "discharge, vomit frequently". A locative noun is a noun indicating place, and -orium was the Latin suffix indicating the place of an activity. We also see the English version of this suffix in dormitory "sleeping place" and laboratory, literally, "work place". Vomitare is the frequentative of vomere "discharge, vomit". The frequentative aspect of a verb indicates action that is repeated. (We are happy that Mark Bailey so frequently discharges interesting words like today's into the Alpha Agora.)