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from Flickr, by Marky Mark on January 3rd, 2012 - answerbag.com
(I do not get seasick, but for those that do, I would imagine that this would be the best place to be.)

(wc 517)

The one word for today – (One!  Count it!) – The one word for today begins with the letter “N.” In keeping with my explanatory post from earlier today, it is only right that I regale you all with this particular word.  It is one with which you are all probably familiar (I, most intimately, lately); however, you might not be familiar with its etymology.

With a sincere apology to Mr. John Masefield, owing to yesterday’s malaise, I have done a bit of rewriting for the esteemed British poet laureate:

I must go now, for I’m seized again, to the loo, so sick am I!
And all I ask is an empty bowl and a lever to flush her by!
The woeful need to regurge is strong, and my knees are shaking;
There’s a green cast on my gray face, for I’m suffering with true bellyaching!

I will save Mr. Masefield from further humiliation, and abuse only the first verse of his stirring poem “Sea Fever.”  I chose that poem, not only because it lent itself so well to my purpose, but because it fits directly with the etymology of today’s word – wait for it! –


nausea – L, lit., seasickness, nausea, fr. Gk nausia, nautia, fr. nautēs sailor, fr. naus ship

The condition is one of the more “delightful” symptoms of seasickness, but is generally used in English today to mean “stomach distress that is accompanied by an urge to vomit;” but the connection between nausea and seasickness is more than physical.  The Latin and Greek sources used the word in reference not only to ordinary stomach distress, but to that form of it which attacks many ship travelers.

The Greeks gave the Romans, who gave to us English-speakers, the root word naus, meaning “ship,” which is likewise related to the English words naval and nautical.

All those wonderful complaints and commotion often associated with sufferers of seasickness provided us with noise as another derivative of nausea.  The form noise came from the Old French with the senses of “noise,” “noisy strife,” “quarrel.”  Therefore, today in English noise may refer to any sound in general, but it especially denotes undesirable sound.

Leave it to the Old French to complain about the noise made by the sufferers of nausea, rather than to commiserate with them over the reasons for the noise!  I guess that means that from now on we should refer to the sounds made at such times as “Freedom ruckus!”  Oh! Wait!  Us Americans have made up with the French now, haven’t we?  Pardonnez-moi, mes amis!

So, there you have it.  Everything you never knew you wanted to know about nausea.

I must go now! I am seized again, by the need for a porcelain ride!
It’s a wild call and a clear call that must not be denied;
And all I ask is a clear way to the room to which I’m flying,
To prevent flung spray and blown spume, from on my carpet drying.

So sorry again, Mr. Masefield, and to you my Gentle Readers, my apologies! I just couldn’t leave it at enough. . .