Nauseous grammar

In the world of medicine there has been a grammatical battle raging for what seems an eternity. “Who are the warring parties?”, you ask. On one side are those that say “nauseating”, and on the the other, those that say “nauseous”.

“Other related terms from the 17th century – nauseation, nauseative, nauseity, nausity – are now obsolete or used very rarely…”

Who is right? The merging borders of written and spoken language; the cyclical nature of grammatical favour and the explosion of social media are to blame for the confusion surrounding linguistic semantics.Whereas the use of nauseous in the subjective sense when speaking now seems a given, nauseated is still holding its own in text. Conversely, the use of nauseous to indicate the cause of nausea is rapidly falling into disuse in spoken conversation (and when it is used, it is sometimes confused with noxious), whereas it maintains only a rapidly diminishing tenuous lead over nauseating in text.

Find out more at the OUPblog: Nauseating or Nauseous or at the AMA Manual of Style

And from the standpoint of medicine as an art for the prevention and cure of disease, the man who translates the hieroglyphics of science into the plain language of healing is certainly the more useful.

William Osler: ‘Teacher and Student‘, in Aequanimitas.

PS. For those that missed Toxicology Conundrum 015, here’s a vivid reminder of why its all bad, regardless of whether you’re feeling nauseated or nauseous…

Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also the Innovation Lead for the Australian Centre for Health Innovation at Alfred Health and Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of two amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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