7 Fancy Words for Crude Bodily Functions

A gross thing by any other name...


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Definition - relating to or given to eructation (“an act or instance of belching”)

We are not saying that you need a very fancy way of saying “burpy,” but we’re also not saying that you don’t. Oh heck, we are saying that you do: such words are one of the things that a dictionary is made for.

W. G. faithfully assures his Friends and the Public in general, that he shall duly and unremittedly pay the strictest attention to that invaluable Article, his so HIGHLY ESTEEMED SAUSAGES, the properties of which are so well known that they need no comment, suffice it therefore to say that they being DISPOSSESSED of that ERUCTATIVE QUALITY, (through a System peculiarly his own) which articles of this kind so generally retain; he confidently asserts that the most delicate Organs of Digestion, may be indulged with these Luxuries, without the least subsequent unpleasantness!!!
— (Advt.) Norfolk Chronicle (Norfolk, Eng.), 17 Nov. 1827

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Definition - nail-biting

This imposing looking word comes from adding together the combining forms onych- (from the Greek word for “nail,” or either the finger or toe variety) and -phagy (from the Greek phagein, meaning “to eat”). The initial portion of the word is not particularly common in English vocabulary, but -phagy is found at the tail-end of many words referring to “eating of a (specified) type or substance.”

As the result of an inquiry carried out in several schools for both sexes, Dr. Bréillon is confirmed in the opinion which he has already rexpressed.—namely, that onychophagia (or biting the nails), and habit of a similar order, are generally connnected with degeneration.
Annals of Hygiene (Philadelphia, PA), Aug. 1895

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Definition - urinate

There are numerous synonyms for the act of voiding urine which are, to loosely paraphrase Thomas Hobbes, nasty, brutish, and short. While we love these kinds of words, it seems likely that many of them are already familiar to readers, while a longer and fancified synonym such as micturate is not. The act or process of micturating is micturition and the word for "the state of really needing to micturate badly, like, right now" is micturient.

In cases where there was much pain or irritation in the bladder from the presence of calculi, or morbid affection of its coats, accompanied with irresistible efforts to micturate….
— James Barlow, Essays on Surgery and Midwifery, 1822

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Definition - foul-smelling sweat

The English language, in its bountiful glory, has provided its speakers with many sweaty words. For in addition to the clinical word listed above for “foul-smelling sweat,” we have anhidrosis (“abnormal deficiency or absence of sweating”), polyhidrosis (“excessive secretion of perspiration”), and even a word which can describe either “generalized or local excessive sweating” (hyperhidrosis). ‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what if I need a single word to describe, say, my fetid foot sweat?’ Fear not, gentle reader, for our tongue is nothing if not generous; George M. Gould, in his 1898 An Illustrated Dictionary of Medicine, defined podobromhidrosis as “offensive sweating of the feet.”

Thus I had under treatment a patient who otherwise did not show the least traces of bromhidrosis, but whenever he began to perspire more freely, as after eating and drinking hearlity or by active exercise, so offensive an exhalation spread around him that he was forced to shun all social intercourse.
— Hugo von Ziemssen, Handbook of Diseases of the Skin, 1885

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Definition - marked by snoring

English has a useful and lovely eponymous word, stentorian, which means “extremely loud,” and comes from the name of an ancient Greek herald (Stentor) who was renowned for, you guessed it, having a very loud voice. We would really like to be able to tell you that stertorous comes similarly from the name of Stertor, a long-dead man who was famous for the volume of his snoring, but alas, this is not the case. The word, which today is more commonly used to mean “characterized by a harsh snoring or gasping sound,” comes from the Latin stertor, meaning “to snore.”

Apoplexy consists in a loss of all the powers of sense and motion, external and internal, accompanied with deep sleep, and a noisy or stertorous breathing, while the strength of the circulation remains the same.
— William Nisbet, The Clinical Guide, 1796

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Definition - foulness of breath

If you wanted to refer to a person who has bad breath, but preferred to do so in a delicate manner, you could use an obscure clinical term for the condition. Halitosis is fairly well-known, but ozostomia is still sufficiently unknown for this purpose. The word may be traced back to a Greek word meaning “having bad breath,” ozostamos, because the ancient Greeks had bad breath too, just like you and me.

Atlanta Worries With Ozostomia At Auditorium
— (Headline) The Macon Telegraph (Macon, GA), 4 Feb. 1938

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Definition - the yellow waxlike secretion from the glands of the external ear

Earwax never really made it into the class of ‘words for bodily secretions or egesta that are now considered taboo or offensive.’ True, you might not wish to touch another person’s earwax, but you probably wouldn’t use the word as an insult or be appalled to hear it mentioned. This does not mean that you shouldn’t know a good obscure synonym for the substance, and cerumen is pretty obscure. The adjective meaning “relating to or secreting cerumen” is ceruminous, which is useful, since earwaxy isn’t really a word.

In the auditory passage cloathed with Skin, through which sounds are carryed, is found a Cholerick clammy humor, which the Ancients cal’d Cerumen. Earwax, being purged from the Brain but Intrinsically it is obliquely placed before this hole or passage of Hearing.
— Thomas Bartholin, Bartholinus Anatomy, 1668




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