CASPER, Wyo. — Can you guess what the noun “borborygmus” means?
Here it is in a sentence: After eating the large slice of turkey at the Thanksgiving feast, she missed the punchline of her grandpa’s joke due to an incredibly loud borborygmus.
The term has been a part of the English language for around 250 years, according to Merriam-Webster. Another clue to the meaning of the word is that borborygmus is onomatopoeic, meaning it sounds like what it represents.
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The definition of borborygmus, according to Merriam-Webster, is: “intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas.” If someone is experiencing multiple stomach rumbles, the plural of the term is “borborygmi.”
“We picked it up from New Latin, but it traces to the Greek verb borboryzein, which means ‘to rumble,'” Merriam-Webster states. “It is believed that the Greek verb was coined to imitate the digestive noises made by a stomach. ‘Borborygmus’ has been part of English for at least 250 years; its earliest known use dates from around 1724.”
The term appeared in the Oct. 26, 1971 issue of the Casper Star-Tribune. American poet Ogden Nash had died on May 19 of that year. A reader of the “Ask Ann Landers” column, a syndicated advice column which appeared in newspapers across the country, sent in a poem that Nash had written about Ann Landers which contained the word “borborygymus.”
“Your poison is my meat, be it alcoholism, infidelity, frigidity, satyriasis, pre-marital pregnancy or borborygmus,” reads a line of the poem.
The column appeared in the Casper-Star Tribune as follows: