Traditionalists will tell you that nauseous should only refer to something that induces nausea.
Trask was leading his comrades in a nighttime raid against the enemy village. Suddenly he stopped in his tracks. What was that nauseous smell?
When you encounter something nauseous, you feel nauseated.
Trask held up a cautionary hand to his followers while he tried to identify the smell. It was difficult to make out, because all he could think about was how it made him feel nauseated.
Today’s English speakers often use nauseous to describe the state of feeling nausea: “I feel nauseous” rather than “I feel nauseated.”
Skrim was right behind Trask. He started to gag, although he was trying valiantly to suppress it. “I feel nauseous,” he mumbled.
Many people tell you that this usage of nauseous is wrong. But even Garner’s Modern American Usage notes that this is a Stage 4 usage, which means that it is virtually universal but “is opposed on cogent grounds by a few linguistic stalwarts (die-hard snoots).” And the Canadian Oxford Dictionary goes so far as to say, “Objections to the use of nauseous in this sense on the grounds that nauseated should be used instead are ill-founded. This is in fact by far the most common sense of nauseous.”
Trask hissed at Skrim through his teeth, “You’ll never get to be a leader if you don’t use your words correctly.”
“Sorry,” Skrim muttered. Trask was tough on everything, including language.
Trask barely heard Skrim’s reply. He felt overpowered by the nauseating stench. Finally he identified it as the nauseatingly daisy-fresh smell of recently washed humans. The village had clearly anticipated their arrival, and they had all taken baths!
“Gaaah!” he cried in frustration. “Trolls, retreat!”
The grimy, stinky horde shuffled off to find better pickings elsewhere.
What’s the most nauseous smell you’ve encountered?
This post is dedicated to Loni Townsend. Thanks for reading!
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I will overwhelm the objectionable letter O…
© Sue Archer and Doorway Between Worlds, 2015