View Poll Results: How do you use/interpret the phrase, "I got sick to my stomach"?
I use it to mean "I threw up," and that's what I assume others mean by it. 22 25.00%
I use it to mean "I threw up," but I'm aware that others use the phrase less specifically. 8 9.09%
I use it to mean I had major digestive discomfort of any sort. I assume others mean "I threw up." 0 0%
I use it to mean I had major digestive discomfort of any sort. I assume others mean the same. 49 55.68%
You idiot, how could you leave out __________? 9 10.23%
Voters: 88. You may not vote on this poll

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 08-19-2011, 09:47 AM
RTFirefly RTFirefly is online now
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Maryland
Posts: 35,020
How do you use/interpret "I got sick to my stomach"?

For most of my life, the phrase "I got sick to my stomach" has meant, "I threw up." Similarly, "I think I'm going to be sick to my stomach" has meant, "I think I may upchuck," etc.

My wife uses it to mean any severe digestive discomfort, whether or not things went (or she thinks they will go) up or down on their way out of her system. I've never heard anyone else use the term this way, though.

Hence the poll. How do you use this term? What does it mean to you when someone else uses it?
Old 08-19-2011, 10:10 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 43,612
To me, it mean nauseous, on the verge of vomiting, but not necessarily so.
Old 08-19-2011, 10:13 AM
Heart of Dorkness Heart of Dorkness is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Twirling towards freedom
Posts: 1,976
I chose other: I use it to mean I'm nauseated; I feel like I'm going to throw up (specifically, as opposed to, say, having diarrhea or heartburn or some other digestive issue). Honestly, I thought that's how everyone used it, as in:

"I got sick to my stomach just watching Toddlers in Tiaras." (nauseated, figuratively)

"I felt sick to my stomach all night, but didn't actually throw up." (nauseated, literally)

If I say I "got sick", period, then yes, that would mean I threw up:

"I was a little nauseated the whole car ride, but on those hairpin turns, I got sick."

Last edited by Heart of Dorkness; 08-19-2011 at 10:13 AM.
Old 08-19-2011, 10:18 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Suburbs of Chicagoland
Posts: 22,337
What they said. If I meant that I threw up, I'll usually say that or go with the "got sick" phrasing from above. If I mean something like diarrhea but am trying to be polite, I'll probably go with something like "major/massive intestinal trouble" or similar.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 08-19-2011 at 10:18 AM.
Old 08-19-2011, 10:25 AM
even sven even sven is offline
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: DC
Posts: 19,401
Technically it means nausea, but in polite company I'll use it for any digestive problem. If I'm telling my boss why I can't come in or my boyfriend why I'm skipping dinner, they don't really need to know what end things are coming out of.
Old 08-19-2011, 01:58 PM
CrazyCatLady CrazyCatLady is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 8,223
Nausea and/or vomiting. "Had stomach cramps" is the euphemism for diarrhea/wolf ass/feeling like you're about to shit your pants.
Old 08-19-2011, 02:03 PM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 28,072
Synonym for "driving the porcelain bus".
Old 08-19-2011, 02:40 PM
Typo Negative Typo Negative is offline
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: 7th Level of Hell, Ca
Posts: 16,550
Nausea. Vomit does not nessasarily have to be involved.

Last edited by Typo Negative; 08-19-2011 at 02:40 PM. Reason: I still cannot spell
Old 08-19-2011, 03:16 PM
newme newme is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: In the Woods
Posts: 335
To me, "sick to my stomach" means nauseated, with or without vomiting.

In the US, "sick" by itself means simply "unwell," with the stomach not necessarily involved. My impression is when the British use "sick" they are primarily meaning "nauseated."
Old 08-19-2011, 03:25 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 12,850
Nausea, primarily. May be a precursor to vomiting, but I don't use it to describe the act itself.
Old 08-19-2011, 03:41 PM
TXCowboy TXCowboy is offline
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 76
To me, "got sick to my stomach" means I threw up. If I "feel sick to my stomach" then its nausea that may lead to throwing up. Now if I say "I'm gonna get sick to my stomach".. then you better clear a path cuz its coming up!
Old 08-19-2011, 03:53 PM
Al Bundy Al Bundy is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,803
Major discomfort, but

I consider it to mean a major discomfort. However, if that same term is used by certain people I know, it always includes vomit. In general, I assume no vomit unless told.
Old 08-19-2011, 05:11 PM
janeslogin janeslogin is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Nevada
Posts: 2,169
I would have thought that out of specific gastrointestinal context it is means figurative discomfort, disgust of some sort. I would have thought that when persons were nauseous they would say nauseous.
Old 08-19-2011, 05:47 PM
Elysian Elysian is offline
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: The Fields
Posts: 1,548
I use it pretty literally to mean that my stomach isn't feeling well. If I was just sick it could mean fever or chills, but to the stomach usually means my stomach feels a bit like emptying its contents.

This is distinct from nausea, which is a swimmy whirling feeling in my head.
Old 08-19-2011, 05:57 PM
Eliahna Eliahna is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Victoria, Australia
Posts: 7,669
Nauseated, not specifically throwing up.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:20 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017