20 Weird Old Words for Bodily Ailments

Ajwad Creative (speech bubble)/iStock via Getty Images Plus
Ajwad Creative (speech bubble)/iStock via Getty Images Plus / Ajwad Creative (speech bubble)/iStock via Getty Images Plus

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

1. Acronyx

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

2. Avinosis

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

“Poor physical or mental health,” according to Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary.

7. Comfoozled

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

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

13. Kakidrosis

Another word for body odor, kakidrosis 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

“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.”