15 Regional Words for Vomiting
Whether from a nasty virus, nauseating taxi ride, or wicked hangover, there will be times you’ll need to blow chunks. At those moments, you probably won’t care to search for a bevy of barfing synonyms. The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is here to help. DARE offers at least 37 vomiting variations from across the United States; here are 15 for the next time you need to pray to the porcelain god.
1. THROW UP ONE'S BOOTS
Ever been so sick you feel like you’re disgorging your Doc Martens? This phrase is for you. Meaning to vomit profusely, throw up your boots might be heard in Michigan and Washington. In California and Connecticut, you might say throw up your bootheels; in Colorado, New York, and Ohio, heave up your boots; and in Alaska, heave up your bootheels.
Still more variations include throw up one’s shoes and heave up one’s shoelaces in the North and West, and throw up one's socks, which has scattered usage but might especially be said in Texas and Central states.
2. THROW UP ONE’S TOES
Another way to say vomit violently, especially in the North. In Michigan, California, New York, and Wisconsin, you might say heave up your toes; in Ohio, turn up your toes; and in Illinois, vomit clear from your toes. Even more variations include vomit up your toenails, throw up everything but your toenails, urp your toenails up, and, if you’re really in a bad way, throw up your boots and toe nails.
Definitely not the kind you want to stand under. This spewtastic term is used especially in South Carolina but was common in England before it projectiled across the Atlantic, according to Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms (1848). The earliest citation of cascade in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is from 1771.
Kotz comes from the German kotzen, which means "to puke," and might be used in German and Pennsylvania-German settlement areas.
5. AIR ONE'S PAUNCH
Regurgitating in Texas? You can say you’re airing your paunch or belly. To air one’s paunch also means “to boast.”
6. FEED THE FISH(ES)
Originally a nautical term meaning to be seasick, feed the fishes eventually came to mean to vomit in general. Variations include feed fish and feed the goldfish.
7., 8., AND 9. URP, EARL, AND BURK
All imitative in origin. Urp is chiefly used in the Mississippi Valley, Georgia, and the Southwest; earl in Indiana; and burk in Georgia. Earl might also be used as a proper noun as in, “Earl’s knocking at the door” or “I’m going to see Earl.” Burk also refers to “an expulsion of intestinal gas.”
Another echoic term, ralph might be used as a verb (“Sounds like Tom’s ralphing”), a common noun (“There’s ralph on your shirt”), or a proper noun (“I think Ralph’s coming round again”). According to the OED, the term originated in the U.S. in the mid-1960s.
You might hear this synonym for chunder (which, by the way, is Australian slang) especially in Pennsylvania and the Great Lakes region. A colorful (and insulting) extension is holler New York, yet another way to say "throw up."
12. HEAVE UP JONAH
In case you’re not familiar with the Old Testament story, Jonah was swallowed by a whale, lived in its belly for three days, then was unceremoniously spit up. Hence, heave up Jonah meaning to hurl. Used especially in the North and North Midland.
13. TOSS ONE’S COOKIES
Lose, spill, or toss your cookies is chiefly used in the North and North Midland. According to the OED, the phrase originated in the late 1920s as college slang: “An hour later, according to the log, ‘McFie shot his cookies’, the only sea-sickness on the voyage.” You can also say flash, park, cough up, or drop your cookies.
14. LOSE (OR BLOW) ONE’S GROCERIES
Need a less delicate way to say toss your cookies? Try blow your groceries. Might be heard in southwest Georgia and northwest Arkansas.
15. LOSE ONE'S OKRA
And if you're feeling queasy in Louisiana, you can say you might lose your okra.