Word of the Day : October 30, 2014


noun KAH-lee-wah-bulz


: pain in the abdomen and especially in the stomach : bellyache

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.


"It's no wonder you've got the collywobbles," said Ruth to her niece, "given the amount of Halloween candy you ate last night!"

"But even the hint of closing this cherished window into Detroit's past gives loyal museumgoers the collywobbles." - Joy Hakanson Colby, The Detroit News, December 30, 2005

Word Family Quiz

What word is supposedly derived through folk etymology from Spanish vaquero, meaning "cowboy"? The answer is …


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