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.
An ingrown nail, from the Greek words meaning “point” and “nail.”
The next time airplane turbulence has you reaching for that barf bag, don’t say you’re airsick—say you’re experiencing avinosis.
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
A word for “a black and blue spot,” according to Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary, that dates back to the 1500s.
Athlete’s foot, per Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary.
“Bleeding from the nose; an instance of this, a nose bleed,” according to the OED.
Another word for goosebumps “caused by cold, fear, or other emotion, or nervous affection,” per the OED.
Kakidrosis is another word for body odor; it derives from Greek and translates to “bad sweat.”
Another way to say you have tired feet.
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.
“Aches and pains when it rains,” according to There’s a Word for It.
Smelly feet or, as the 1913 book An Illustrated Dictionary of Medicine, Biology and Allied Sciences puts it, “offensive sweating of the feet.”
Saprostomous means “having foul breath” and translates to “rotten mouth.”
“The act of sneezing; a sneeze,” according to the book -ologies & -isms.
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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