Blech! Words So Gross They’ll Make You Sick


Gross, gross words. The interesting thing about them is that they’re so image-inducing. When you hear the word, your mind’s eye seizes upon it, and then you cringe because it’s, well, gross. These 15 words were culled from your suggestions, so thank you very much. We think.

We lead off with maggot, a soft-bodied, legless larva of certain flies. Imagining a “soft-bodied legless larva” alone is enough to give you the willies. Besides, it’s a bug, and bugs are inherently gross to some people. Admit it, if someone says they love those “cuddly” little tarantula spiders, you raise an eyebrow, right?


As a verb (without object) we’ve got multiple definitions for fester, and they’re all gross. First, fester means “to form pus, and generate purulent matter.” Purulent means “full of, containing, forming, or discharging pus.” Fine. Second, “to cause ulceration, as a foreign body in the flesh.” Foreign bodies in the flesh? That’s always gross. And the last one tops things off: “to putrefy or rot.” Can we top that? Probably not. But we’re going to keep at it.


If something (or someone) is fetid, that means it (or they) have an offensive odor. A great example would be if you left a block of bleu cheese in a dark closet for a few days, along with some old gym shoes and socks. That’s fetid. Great synonyms (that aren’t quite as gross sounding) include malodorous, smelly, and noisome.


A true Hall of Fame gross word. Smegma is just gross. It’s a thick, cheese like, sebaceous secretion that collects beneath the (male and female genitalia). And oh, while we’re at it, sebaceous glands secrete “a fat or a greasy lubricating substance.” So this is a double slam-dunk ick.


Seepage means to “ooze gradually through a porous substance.” It also conjures up mental imagery of a bloody bullet wound seeping through a shirt sleeve. Did someone say ooze? Hold on—we’ll get there.


Another Hall of Fame gross word. In fact, our definition is so gross sounding, we’re presenting it here in its complete and unedited form. Enjoy. “A viscous, slimy mixture of mucins, water, electrolytes, epithelial cells,and leukocytes that is secreted by glands lining the nasal, esophageal,and other body cavities and serves primarily to protect and lubricate surfaces.” Ewwwwwww.


To masticate means to chew. You may have heard this one in high school hygiene classes. The filmstrip narrator would sonorously intone, “following a thorough mastication of your food, a rigorous teeth cleansing is essential to dental health.” Say it out loud (quietly). It’s the combination of the three syllables that does it, in our humble opinion.


We all know what this is. Normally there would be no need to elaborate, but since we’re here, let’s get into the gross definition. “An intestinal disorder characterized by abnormal frequency and fluidity of fecal evacuations.” You get fluid and fecal evacuations in the same definition, and you know what that means—it’ll always be a gross word, no two ways about it.


Besides being a gross word, it’s also quite tough to spell. It’s on this list because its definition includes the previously mentioned mucus, as well as the word discharge. Phlegm is “the thick mucus secreted in the respiratory passages and discharged through the mouth.” It is, indeed.


Wow, feculent is a massively gross word that totally deserves a gross definition, and we have it: “full of dregs or fecal matter; foul, turbid, or muddy.” Now how about that for a great visual? You can thank us later.


Scab means “the incrustation that forms over a sore or wound during healing.” There was that time when you and your BFF were racing your Schwinn 10-speeds down Twin Hills, and you wiped out at the bottom, resulting in a totaled bike and two skinned knees. Incrustation could get some gross consideration all by itself. Or just shorten it to crusty. What do you think?


An epically gross word. Did you know: in Britain they spell it faeces. In medical terms, it’s known as stercus, and that’s the environment it’s typically used in. In everyday life, we normally just default to poop, right?


A common gross word, but again, our definition really brings it to life: “To eject the contents of the stomach through the mouth; regurgitate; throw up.” The second reference is even better: “to belch or spew with force or violence.” There’s very little ambiguity with that. Another fun fact for you: NASA has planes known as Vomit Comets. The zero-gravity aircraft are used for training in a weightless environment.


We all know the word pimple: “a small, usually inflammatory swelling or elevation of the skin.” The slang synonym zit is also popular, but somehow doesn’t feel as gross, does it? A pimple generates pus (a classic gross word), so it’s on the list. This word typically goes hand-in-hand with our next selection.


Ooze is a word you probably have little trouble imagining. We call it “to flow, percolate, or exude slowly, as through holes or small openings.” (As in the case of a pimple.) Oil typically oozes from a leak. And what would cartoon battles be without a little ooze here and there? Think of Ivan Ooze from the old Power Rangers movie, or Liquid Ooze in Pokémon.

You’ve already made your way through 15 gross words. Congratulations. If you have others to add, find us on Twitter and Facebook!

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