Sally M (sallymn) wrote in 1word1day,
Sally M

Sunday Word: Collywobbles

Sunday Word: Collywobbles

collywobbles [kol-ee-wob-uhlz]

1 (informal, humorous) stomach pain or queasiness, intestinal cramps
2 intense anxiety or nervousness


The whole experience was a wonderful pandemic distraction from start to finish. It's only now that it’s about to actually be on the telly that I am getting a fit of the collywobbles. (Róisín Ingle, 'Are you living your dreams through us?' my daughter asked, The Irish Times, June 2021)

Refreshments come from a tearoom that serves milk from the estate's cows, and before the show tonight's MC, a member of the family who lives at the hall, announces: "If anyone has had a large picnic and is feeling the onset of collywobbles, we have the St John Ambulance here." (Jude Rogers, Richard Thompson review - rock'n'rolling back the years, The Sun Nigeria, August 2018)

But really it is the right time, because even now great cohorts of little children are feeling collywobbles about their looming first days of school. (Meghan Cox Gurdon, Back to the Blackboard, The Wall Street Journal, July 2015)

Within five minutes everybody aboard had the galloping collywobbles and the twittering jitters. (Randall Garrett, Unwise Child)


'nauseated feeling, disordered indisposition in the bowels,' 1823, probably a fanciful formation from colic and wobble. Perhaps suggested by cholera morbus. (Online Etymology Dictionary)

We don't know who first clutched his or her tummy and called the affliction 'collywobbles,' but we do know the word's earliest print appearance dates from around 1823. We also know that the word probably came about through a process called 'folk etymology.' In that process, unusual words are transformed to make them look or sound like other, more familiar words. Collywobbles is believed to be a friendlier-sounding transformation of cholera morbus (the New Latin term for the disease cholera) that was influenced by the words colic and wobble. (Merriam-Webster)

Tags: c, folk etymology, noun, wordsmith: sallymn

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