20 Weird Words for Bodily Ailments

Why say you have tired feet when you could say you have lassipedes instead?
It’s not bad breath, it’s bromopnea.
It’s not bad breath, it’s bromopnea. / Planet Flem/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Need a better word to describe what ails you? Look no further than this list of unusual terms to describe your aches, pains, and whatever else is happening in your body—some of which are quite old.

1. Acronyx

An ingrown nail, from the Greek words meaning “point” and “nail.”

2. Avinosis

Woman with an airsickness bag up to her face
Avinosis is a fancier way to say you’re airsick. / martin-dm/E+/Getty Images

The next time airplane turbulence has you reaching for that barf bag, don’t say you’re airsick—say you’re experiencing avinosis.

3. Bdelygmia

According to Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words, bdelygmia means “nausea.” A Dictionary of Psychological Medicine from 1892 defines the word, which has Greek origins, as “an old term used by Hippocrates for a morbid loathing of food.”

4. Bromopnea

Bad breath by any other name definitely doesn’t smell as sweet. Bromopnea comes from two Greek words: Bromos, meaning “stench,” and pnoe, meaning “breath.”

5. Buccula

“One of the elevated plates or ridges beneath the head on either side of the rostrum of insects of the order Heteroptera,” according to Merriam-Webster, and also a double chin, per Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary. The word comes from the Latin for “small cheek.” Fun fact: You can also call a double chin “submental fullness.”

6. Cachexia

Another way to say your health—both mental and physical—is not so hot. It can also refer to a wasting disorder that affects the body.

7. Comfoozled

Woman in bed with her hands over her face
Ever been so comfoozled you can't get out of bed? / Oleg Breslavtsev/Moment/Getty Images

Exhausted? Tell people you’re comfoozled, a word that, according to Green’s Dictionary of Slang, was likely coined by Charles Dickens in The Pickwick Papers.

8. Desudation

Anyone walking around in the summer will want to use this word, which dates back to 1728 and means “violent sweating,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

9. Ecchymosis

A word for “a black and blue spot,” according to Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary, that dates back to the 1500s.

10. Epidermophytosis

Athlete’s foot, per Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary.

11. Epistaxis

“Bleeding from the nose; an instance of this, a nose bleed,” according to the OED.

12. Horripilation

Woman's arm with goosebumps
Goosebumps, otherwise known as horripilation. / Roberto Gomez/Moment/Getty Images

Another word for goosebumps “caused by cold, fear, or other emotion, or nervous affection,” per the OED.

13. Kakidrosis

Kakidrosis is another word for body odor; it derives from Greek and translates to “bad sweat.”

14. Lassipedes

Another way to say you have tired feet.

15. Obdormition

Originally a 17th-century word that described falling or being asleep, obdormition came to mean “numbness of a limb” by the 1850s. So when your arm or leg falls asleep, use this fancy word to describe what’s happening instead.

16. Ombrosalgia

“Aches and pains when it rains,” according to There’s a Word for It.

17. Podobromhidrosis

Smelly feet or, as the 1913 book An Illustrated Dictionary of Medicine, Biology and Allied Sciences puts it, “offensive sweating of the feet.”

18. Saprostomous

Saprostomous means “having foul breath” and translates to “rotten mouth.”

19. Sternutation

Man sneezing
That looks like a good sternutation. / Trevor Williams/DigitalVision/Getty Images

“The act of sneezing; a sneeze,” according to the book -ologies & -isms.

20. Tragomaschalia

According to Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, tragomaschalia is “Malodorous perspiration … of the axilla”—in other words, smelly armpits. The word is derived from the Greek word tragos, meaning “goat,” and maschale, or “the armpit.”

A version of this story ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2023.

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