THE WORD GEEK: borborygmus

NaBloWriMo Post 11

Sometimes in my guise as The Word Geek, I come across a word I have never seen before, and it makes me giggle.

Borborygmus is just such a word, and the picture to the left should give you a hint as to its origin and meaning. If not, the following information will.


General Word Information:

English pronunciation: bore – bo – RIG – mus (accent on third syllable)

Spell to Write and Read word and markings: borborygmus: bor bo ryg mus

Definitions/Parts of Speech:

  1. noun, rumbling in the intestines from the movement of gas in the bowel; “tummy rumbles”
  2. adjective, of, relating to, or affected with borborygmus

Plural form: borborygmi, bor bo ryg m

Additional singular form:

borborygm (n.)– bor bo rygm (g is silent)

Derivative forms:

adjective: borborygmic

plural: borborygmies

Sample sentence:

Despite trying to ignore it, she was embarrassed that her borborygmus was so loud during her speech.

Sample quotations:

Borborygmi..are a serious annoyance.”

— L. S. Beale, Slight Ailments, page 97 — 1880



“Elephant hunters say that they can tell the proximity of a herd by the borborygmic (see dictionary) noises the poor brutes emit.”




— H. G. Wells, The Milwaukee Journal, Sunday Express, May 1, 1927, “Human Life Happier Today Than Ever Before on Earth”


borborygmus, New Latin, from Greek borborygmos, to rumble, of an imitative origin; borborygmy from Greek borborygmos + English –y, first use, circa 1724

Final Thoughts:

You may already have discerned that borborygmus is an unusual word, and one not often seen in modern literature. Mr. Wells’ wry 1927 statement, quoted above from 1927, is indicative of the type of humorous usage this word seems to engender. Somehow it rolls off the tongue with vigor, almost with its own effervescence, asking us to amuse ourselves with it.

Well, so be it, I say. We should have fun using new and unusual words; there certainly are a lot of them!

What are some unusual words you have discovered recently?

17 responses to “The Word Geek: borborygmus”

  1. Dakota says:

    This is an AWESOME word… and now I know precisely what to call those rumblings in my 7 week old’s tummy…

  2. John Croan says:

    I really enjoy humor and this was humorous. A couple weeks ago,in church, my belly was really rumbling and I finally had to go to the rest room to kinda take care of the problem. My oldest daughter, 60 years of age, sent me a talking old fart doll. When you turned him on and pinched his hand, he would sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU and fart numerous time. The folks at the Nursing home on Vashon Island really enjoyed it. Thank you for sending this humerous data to me.

  3. Sarah Moser says:

    Glad you liked it, John! And so great to hear from you and know you’re still enjoying life and making people laugh. I’ll never forget the year you came to our house all dressed up as Santa, just to make Grace and Greg happy. I treasure those photographs and the time you spent with us.

    I’m also happy to note you now have a new word to bandy about at parties: “And how is YOUR borborygmus today?” Hmm, might start a new fad! ;-D

  4. Sarah Moser says:

    Thanks for writing, Dakota. Your bog is lovely, btw. And I love the earrings and your sweet little one!

    Stay tuned for more interesting words and information about the English language on the web site and The Word Geek.

  5. […] Despite trying to ignore it, she was embarrassed that her borborygmus was so loud during her speech. (Family Education Services) […]

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