August 7th, 2015 .

Sick of Being Right

Pat Morden

I try not to be one of those grammar freaks who know arcane rules and love to correct others with a slightly apologetic air. But I can’t help registering some common usage errors. Case in point: nauseated versus nauseous.

I was raised to believe that nauseated meant feeling sick, and nauseous meant inducing a feeling of sickness. And yes, I admit I may have felt a little superior to those who use nauseous to mean feeling sick (which almost everyone does nowadays).

But imagine my surprise when I started doing some research, and found that many grammar gurus acknowledge and accept that usage has legitimately changed.

So am I wrong? Perhaps the real question is, does it matter? When a friend tells you, “I feel nauseous,” she is clearly not suggesting that she’s having such a bad hair day others may feel like vomiting. And really, it’s hardly the moment to give her a lecture on the finer points of usage – just give her some ginger ale, soda crackers and sympathy!

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