: causing nausea or disgust : nauseating
the nauseous smell of rotting garbage
: affected with nausea or disgust
When the medication makes her tired and nauseous, she works at home instead of going to the office.Jane E. Brody
nauseously adverb
nauseousness noun
Nauseous vs. Nauseated: Usage Guide

Those who insist that nauseous can properly be used only to mean "causing nausea" and that its later "affected with nausea" meaning is an error for nauseated are mistaken. Current evidence shows these facts: nauseous is most frequently used to mean physically affected with nausea, usually after a linking verb such as feel or become; figurative use is quite a bit less frequent. Use of nauseous to mean "causing nausea or disgust" is much more often figurative than literal, and this use appears to be losing ground to nauseating. Nauseated is used more widely than nauseous when referring to being affected with nausea.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is one nauseous or nauseated?

Some usage guides have held that there should be a strict distinction between nauseous and nauseated, with the first word meaning "causing nausea or disgust" and the second one meaning "affected with nausea." However, nauseous has been in widespread enough use for both of these senses that this distinction is now quite blurred. Nauseous may mean either "causing nausea" or "affected with nausea"; nauseated, on the other hand, is restricted in meaning to "affected with nausea; feeling disgust."

What is the verb for nauseous?

The verb form of nauseous is nauseate, meaning "to affect with nausea or disgust." It comes from the Latin word meaning "seasickness, nausea," which itself may be traced back to the Greek word for "sailor" (nautēs).

Is nausea a noun?

Nausea is a noun, meaning "a stomach distress with distaste for food and an urge to vomit" or "extreme disgust." A number of other nouns are closely related in meaning, including nauseant ("something that causes nausea"), nauseousness ("an instance of nausea"), and nauseatingness ("the quality or state of being nauseating").

Examples of nauseous in a Sentence

She looked slightly nauseous, as though she had just watched someone being sick. However, when she drew out her wand and pointed it at Barty Crouch, her hand was quite steady. J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000
She unleashed, too, an olfactory effect of such nauseous potency as to make him gag and retch. Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses, 1989
Personally, I think that writing must be a bit like pregnancy: It begins with a microscopic idea that with time grows and takes shape and comes alive. And often, when I get up in the morning and look at what I wrote the night before, sure enough—I become nauseous. Mike Nichols, Life and other ways to kill time, 1988
Ermyn didn't take sugar, but she sipped the nauseous solution bravely, incapable of rebuffing a kindness. Alice Thomas Ellis, The Sin Eater, 1977
The smell of gasoline makes me nauseous. I began to feel nauseous.
Recent Examples on the Web A little nauseous but otherwise not too bad and baby girl is trying to figure things out. Hannah Sacks, Peoplemag, 5 Apr. 2024 Not long after her mom's nudge, India began feeling nauseous and missed her period. Eileen Finan, Peoplemag, 14 Mar. 2024 Other symptoms are often also present during a migraine attack such as pulsating discomfort or throbbing on one side of the head, feeling nauseous or experiencing uncomfortable sensitivity to light and sound. Daryl Austin, USA TODAY, 14 Mar. 2024 Immediately following the experiment, several students reported being nauseous and went to see the school nurse, who then told administrators about the situation. Greg Wehner, Fox News, 18 Feb. 2024 Scorsese’s sympathies are, of course, with Henry, and yet the chronicle of his final months does feel nauseous: the transformation of a tragedy into a spectacle is too neat. Hazlitt, 7 Feb. 2024 But as things were getting under way at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Hoang, 23, started to feel dizzy and nauseous. CBS News, 6 Dec. 2023 Besides feeling a little nauseous and woozy post-ketamine treatment, Kelley didn’t experience any side effects. Daliah Singer, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Nov. 2023 First responders’ and residents’ throats were burning, and many began to feel nauseous and dizzy. Jacob Carter, STAT, 10 Nov. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nauseous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see nausea

First Known Use

1612, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of nauseous was in 1612

Dictionary Entries Near nauseous

Cite this Entry

“Nauseous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


: affected with or causing nausea or disgust
feel nauseous
a nauseous odor
nauseously adverb

Medical Definition


: causing nausea
: affected with nausea

More from Merriam-Webster on nauseous

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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