Words at Play

8 Words to Kill Your Appetite

'Borborygmus', 'keck', and other words unsuitable for the dinner table


Definition: a belch which tastes of meat

There are some bad words in the nid- section of the alphabet. The word nidor may describe a strong smell, but is especially used to refer to “the smell of cooking or burning meat or fat”; the adjective nidorous is defined as “smelling of or like burning or decaying animal matter.” As unlovable as these words are, they pale in comparison with nidorosity, which was memorably defined by Samuel Johnson as “eructation with the taste of undigested roast meat.” And however objectionable you might find this concept, you must at least admit that the word nidorosity itself is rather more pleasing to say than meat-burp.

I have been within the influence of their nidorosities.
—James Beckett, Remarks on Conversations Occasioned by Mr. Burke’s Letter, 1796

Definition:
1. marked by intemperance especially in eating or drinking
2.  sick from excessive indulgence in liquor

Well-nigh everyone has suffered from feeling crapulous, and most of us have been forced to make do with inelegant words such as hungover to describe our delicate condition. But what if one feels the ill-effects of over-consumption of eating overmuch, rather than those arising from intemperance?

For such occasions you may now say that you feel crapulous. It's not related to the word crap—the two words come from different languages.

When in France, either occupied or unemployed, he has always led a life so crapulous and debauched, that it has even scandalized his vicious and immoral countrymen.
—Lewis Goldsmith Stewarton, The Revolutionary Plutarch, 1804

Definition: to make the sounds of retching

It has been remarked by H. L. Mencken, Neil Simon, and many others that words with K in them are funny (or at least funny-sounding). If we accept this tenet of humor then keck must be a very funny word indeed, with its swaggering ratio of K to non-K letters. Even if you don’t think keck is a funny word, you must admit that it is useful, insofar as it describes not the action of retching, but simply making the sound of one who is attempting to vomit.

The blood-red venom on his lips
Foamed as he kecked;
Rabid he bit, loon-frantic tore,
Like demon checked!
—Francis Saltus Saltus, “Arabesque”, Honey and Gall:Poems, 1873

Definition: lavish spending on food and drink

Abligurition appears to have entered our language through being included in Nathan Bailey’s 1724 Universal Etymological English Dictionary, in which he defined the word as “a prodigal spending in Belly-Cheer.” A few decades later Samuel Johnson borrowed most of this definition (but unfortunately took out the part about “belly cheer”), and said that it was “A prodigal spending on meat and drink.” Despite being included in these two fine works abligurition is rarely, if ever, found outside the confines of a dictionary. In the event that it is encountered in general writing, it typically is still not in natural use; people will occasionally employ it to show that such a word exists.

This lady is a pedant, who culls all the difficult words from dictionaries to grace her speech; ex. gr. “…Pray, Sir Charles, make your evolution from your subderisorious cousin; manuduct the fair troglodyte (who is your sun, and be your station perihelium) to our little zeta; where you will find no supervacaneous abligurition, &c. &c.”
The Literary Journal, Dec. 1806

Definition: a rumbling sound made by the movement of gas in the intestine

If, soon after reading this list, someone happens to ask you “what is the least useful thing you learned today?” you may tell them that the word borborygmus may be pluralized in two ways, as borborygmi or borborygmies. The word may be traced back to the Greek verb borboryzein, which means “to rumble.” Knowing what the word is for this condition will not alleviate any embarrassment you might feel if this happens to you at a dinner party.

Expressed a strong desire to evacuate his bowels; the borborygmus being distinct to all in the room.
The Choler Epidemic of 1873 in the United States, 1875

Definition: inedible

Everyone has been in a situation where the food being served is inedible, and yet where propriety and good manners prevent one from proclaiming this. Now, rather than offend the cook, you may refer to the meal as “simply inesculent,” and most people will not be any the wiser. Inesculent is formed by combining the prefix in- with esculent, which simply means “edible,” and generally is used for matter that is not meant to be eaten, rather than to describe food that is disgusting.

For my part I care not a rush (or any other aquatic and inesculent vegetable) who or what sucks up either the water or the infection.
—Thomas Love Peacock, Maid Marian, and Crochet Castle, 1856

Definition: infested with maggots

We sincerely hope that you never have the occasion to use this word in a non-nautical sense (skipper may also refer to the action of being the captain of a ship). However, since we aim to provide our readers with the means to describe any kind of situation which may arise in life, we have included it in this list.

In the unlikely event that you have need of a word to refer to a specific type of food that it so infested, the adjective skippery refers to either cheese or meat that has been infected with the cheese fly larva (also known by the winsome name of cheese skippers).

It was not lawful, in those days, to pay God’s minister in musty meal, or rotten wood, or frosted fruits, or skippered meat.
—J. R. Deering, in Kentucky Conference Pulpit: Being Sermons by Ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, 1874

Ruminate
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Medical Words For Everyday Situations

Definition: to chew repeatedly for an extended period

These days when ruminate is applied to people it most often is used to refer to the action of contemplating something, or musing on a subject (and this is the earliest meaning of the word). However, it also may refer to the action of chewing food for a long time, or to chew again on food that has been swallowed and brought back up. This sense is more frequently employed for animals, such as cows, which have more than one stomach, and chew their food repeatedly (which is why they are called ruminants). But we have all shared a table with a human ruminant, and it may be helpful to know the word with which you may describe this creature.

This ruminating man lived at Bristol. He would begin to chew his meat over again within a quarter of an hour after his meals, if he drank upon them; if not, it was some time longer.
The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1691 (1809)




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