Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Borborygmus – Wacky Word Wednesday

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today, our folks at T for Translation have prepared a wacky word which may sound a little scary for some of you but it actually refers to a normal, everyday occurrence. And if you’re reading this with an empty stomach, you might want to grab a bite first before you lose concentration and your stomach starts to grumble.

borborygmus

[bawr-buh-RIG-muhs]

-noun

A rumbling or gurgling sound caused by the movement of gas in the intestines.

Borborygmus (plural borborygmi) is an onomatopoeic word which comes from Greek borborygmós, meaning ‘intestinal rumbling.’ It refers to the gurgling noise that occurs from the movements of fluid and gas in the intestines. As waves of muscle contractions move foods and gases through the digestive system, the food is pushed against the intestinal wall, which induces the noise. The process of these contractions is known as peristalsis, which is the ultimate cause of borborygmus.

Borborygmus frequently happens not only in the stomach but just as often in the small intestine. It also doesn’t necessarily indicate that you are hungry. We often associate stomach rumbling with hunger because the barborygmus is louder when the digestive tract is relatively empty and there is not much to muffle the noise. Some other causes for the rumbling are swallowed air, high fiber food that produces more gas, and incomplete digestion of food resulting in excess gas in the intestine.

In literature, the adjective borborygmic has been used figuratively to describe noisy plumbing. For example, in Ada, a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, you’ll find “All the toilets and waterpipes in the house had been suddenly seized with borborygmic convulsions.”

Below are a few examples using today’s wacky word:

  • Despite trying to ignore it, she was embarrassed that her borborygmus was so loud during her speech. (Family Education Services)
  • For heaven’s sake would you please take a Tums; your borborygmus is making it hard to hear the TV. (Word4that)

When your intestine starts to make those loud borborygmi, there’s really not much you can do about it. But with some practical tips, you can learn how to handle this noisy and embarrassing situation.  Don’t forget you can also share stories of your rumbling stomach below.

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