col·​ly·​wob·​bles ˈkä-lē-ˌwä-bəlz How to pronounce collywobbles (audio)
plural in form but singular or plural in construction

Did you know?

We don't know who first clutched his or her tummy and called the affliction "collywobbles," but we do know the word's earliest print appearance dates from around 1823. We also know that the word probably came about through a process called "folk etymology." In that process, unusual words are transformed to make them look or sound like other, more familiar words. Collywobbles is believed to be a friendlier-sounding transformation of cholera morbus (the New Latin term for the disease cholera) that was influenced by the words colic and wobble.

Word History


perhaps by folk etymology from New Latin cholera morbus, literally, the disease cholera

First Known Use

circa 1823, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of collywobbles was circa 1823


Dictionary Entries Near collywobbles

Cite this Entry

“Collywobbles.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

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