nauseous = nauseated (1885)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sat Jan 8 06:52:47 UTC 2005

A usage no doubt repulsive to the John Simons and Robert Fiskes of this
world is the equating of "nauseous" with "nauseated" (rather than the
earlier sense of "nauseating").  The OED3 draft entry dates this sense of
"nauseous" to 1949, but surely we can do better...

1885 _Daily Gleaner_ (Kingston, Jamaica) 14 Apr. 2/5 I saw the long and
white helmeted troops march in apparent comfort on their way, while I
swayed to and fro and was bumped up and down and oscillated and see-sawed
from side to side until I became nauseous and had exhausted my profane
Arabic vocabulary in the vain attempt to induce "Daddles" to consider my
comfort more than his own.
1903 _Coshocton Daily Age_ (Ohio) 16 Sep. 1/1 Her voyage through the
spirit land made her somewhat nauseous and was not the most pleasant
journey imaginable, but she is on the high road to recovery now.
1906 _Daily Gleaner_ (Kingston, Jamaica) 7 July 7/3 (advt.) When you feel
nauseous and dizzy, don't take brandy or whisky -- try Nerviline.
1927 _Chicago Tribune_ 9 May 10/3 This lasts ten or fifteen minutes, and
then I have a terrible headache and I feel nauseous.
1933 _Los Angeles Times_ 21 Sep. II6/1 (advt.) The salts that do not make
you nauseous.

The 1885 cite is from an unnamed piece entitled, "In the Camps at Korti:
Terrible March across the Heated Sands of the Soudan" ("Daddles" is the
name of the writer's camel).  So perhaps British (or Commonwealth) sources
antedate American ones for this usage (despite the OED's "orig. U.S."

Here is the earliest cite I could find expressing concern over the proper
use of "nauseous" (from Frank Colby's column, "Take My Word For It!"):

1946 _Los Angeles Times_ 8 Nov. II7/7 From a recent issue of Look: "Stefan
became nauseous." Could that be right? ... Yes, if the author intended to
say that Stefan was loathsome; so disgusting as to cause nausea. Obviously
he meant to write: Stefan became nauseated.

--Ben Zimmer

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