[ naw-shuhs, -zee-uhs ]
/ ˈnɔ ʃəs, -zi əs /
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See synonyms for: nauseous / nauseousness on Thesaurus.com


affected with nausea; nauseated: to feel nauseous.
causing nausea; sickening; nauseating: a nausous smell.
disgusting; loathsome: a nauseous display of greed.


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Origin of nauseous

First recorded in 1595–1605; from Latin nauseōsus; see nausea, -ous

words often confused with nauseous

The two literal senses of nauseous, “affected with nausea” ( to feel nauseous ) and “causing nausea” ( a nauseous smell ), appear in English at almost the same time in the early 17th century, and both senses are in standard use at the present time. Nauseous is more common than nauseated in the sense “affected with nausea,” despite recent objections by those who imagine the sense to be new. In the sense “causing nausea,” either literally or figuratively, nauseating has become more common than nauseous : a nauseating smell.


nau·seous·ly, adverbnau·seous·ness, noun


nauseated, nauseous (see confusables note at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does nauseous mean?

To be nauseous is to have nausea—to feel sick in your stomach, as if you might vomit. The word nauseated means the same thing.

Nauseous can also mean the same thing as nauseating—causing nausea. However, nauseous is much less commonly used this way (despite the fact that some people insist that it’s the “proper” use of the word).

The word nausea can also be used in a figurative way meaning a feeling of disgust, revulsion, or repulsion, and nauseous can be used to describe things that make people feel this way, meaning about the same thing as disgusting or loathsome. However, the word nauseating is more commonly used in a figurative context, as in Your linguistic pedantry is nauseating. 

Example: If you feel nauseous, try lying down and breathing through your nose.

Where does nauseous come from?

The first records of the word nauseous come from around 1600. It is thought to derive from the Greek nausíā, meaning “seasickness,” from naûs, meaning “ship” (the same root is the basis of the word nautical). The suffix -ous means “full of” and is used to form adjectives.

People can become nauseous from seasickness and many other conditions that affect the stomach, such as motion sickness, morning sickness, carsickness, anxiety, or from the side effects of medications. People often feel nauseous due to something they ate. When you’re nauseous, the very thought of eating can make you even more nauseous.

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What are some other forms related to nauseous?

  • nauseously (adverb)
  • nauseousness (noun)
  • nausea (noun)

What are some synonyms for nauseous?

What are some words that share a root or word element with nauseous

What are some words that often get used in discussing nauseous?

How is nauseous used in real life?

Nauseous is most commonly used to describe someone who feels sick to their stomach. It is typically used in the phrases feel nauseous or feeling nauseous. 



Try using nauseous!

Which of the following words can be used as a synonym of nauseous?

A. nauseated
B. nauseating
C. nauseant
D. all of the above

Example sentences from the Web for nauseous

British Dictionary definitions for nauseous

/ (ˈnɔːzɪəs, -sɪ-) /


feeling sick
causing nausea
distasteful to the mind or senses; repulsive

Derived forms of nauseous

nauseously, adverbnauseousness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for nauseous

[ nôshəs, -zē-əs ]


Causing nausea.
Affected with nausea.

Other words from nauseous

nauseous•ly adv.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.