use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

nau·seous (nôshəs, -zē-əs)
Share:
adj.
1. Causing nausea; sickening: "the most nauseous offal fit for the gods" (John Fowles).
2. Affected with nausea.

nauseous·ly adv.
nauseous·ness n.

Usage Note: Traditional usage lore has insisted that nauseous should be used only to mean "causing nausea" and that it is incorrect to use it to mean "feeling sick to one's stomach." Back in 1965, the Usage Panel was in step with this thinking, with 88 percent rejecting the "feeling sick" meaning of nauseous in the sentence Roller coasters make me nauseous, preferring nauseated instead. Over the years, however, this attitude has shifted dramatically. The proportion of Panelists who disapproved of this same sentence dropped to 72 percent in 1988, 39 percent in 1999, and a slim 23 percent in 2013. This change may have been inevitable once people began to think that nauseous did not properly mean "causing nausea." Even in our 1988 survey, this was the case, as 88 percent preferred nauseating in the sentence The children looked a little green from too many candy apples and nauseating (not nauseous) rides. In 2013, the Panel was presented with this sentence using the word nauseous, and only 30 percent found it acceptable. Since there is abundant evidence for the "feeling sick" use of nauseous, the word presents a classic example of a word whose traditional, "correct" usage has largely been supplanted by a newer, "incorrect" one. In other words, what was once considered an error is now standard practice. Nauseous is now far more common than nauseated in describing the sick feeling.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.