When your stomach talks . . .

Borborygmus: noun, meaning the rumbling noise made when gas passes through the intestines.


I don’t anticipate using a word I can barely pronounce as often as I might like, but I am extraordinarily happy to know it exists. More than the singular, the plural form of the word — borborygmi — elicits notions of people involved an a relationship with several very boring or boorish people (at least to me). But, it’s an onomatopoetic word that comes to us from Greece by way of France, and the plural form actually indicates a symphony of growling stomachs, so far as I can tell.

Folks like Vladmir Nabakov have pulled it off in literature: in Ada, he writes, “All the toilets and waterpipes in the house had been suddenly seized with borborygmic convulsions.” Only Nabakov could make such a word sing.

So here’s the challenge:  Listen to Bartleby’s pronunciation, then try to insert this word into a sentence sometime over the next week. Some unsuspecting logophile will thank you for it.

Categories: etymology | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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