I am trying to find a synonym for the word "vomit" in its noun form. There are plenty of words used to express the action of ejecting matter from the stomach, but the only word I can find that refers to the actual material ejected is "vomit". I was hoping for a more formal word, but that seems near to impossible since I cannot even find informal ways to say it. I specifically am describing a murder in nineteenth century England which involves a poison that causes muscle spasms (and vomiting).

I checked thesaurus.com, macmillandictionary.com, merriam-webster.com, and Google's dictionary, but the only word provided was "vomit". Any ideas?

  • 2
    I'm curious to know what you're writing about where you're concerned about overusing the word "vomit"? Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 22:24
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    It is a story that includes a murder in nineteenth century England. There is poison involved which causes muscle spasms (including stomach spasms). Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 22:26
  • 2
    Did you try a thesaurus?
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 23:31
  • 3
    A pavement pizza! Yum...
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 11:40
  • 5
    A technicolor yawn!
    – IconDaemon
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:04

15 Answers 15


It's not unheard of to nounify a verb so you might be able to use:

Puke: He was found lifeless, lying in a pool of his own puke.

Upchuck: The volume of upchuck was astounding...who could possibly have so much food and liquid in their stomach at one time?

And kinda related...bile. The liquid, non-food specific stomach acid that is sometimes ejected after a person has no more food in their stomach but the spasms continue to push out the contents of the stomach.

Per MW-Online's definition of vomit:


barf, gag, heave, hurl, vomit, retch, spew, spit up, throw up, upchuck...of these, the following can be used in a nounified version: barf, spit up, throw up, (and as mentioned above, upchuck)

  • 1
    Merriam-Webster is going to be skewed to US synonyms, which might not be appropriate for the 1800s in England, which @cardinalsystem added in comments. Specifically ‘barf’ and ‘upchuck’ would be very jarring.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 0:19
  • 1
    @Spagirl Depends on whether the word is being used in dialogue or description. The latter doesn't necessarily have to be in period language (although it depends on the overall style of the novel).
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 1:21
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    Puke is often used as a noun in British English
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:44
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    @ChrisH I agree about "puke". But I think the most common alternative noun to "vomit", used in Britain would be "sick". - "Don't tread in that sick on the pavement". But I did rather enjoy Kristina's "upchuck".
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 21:31
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    @KristinaLopez We all love "upchuck", Kristina. Now how much upchuck could an upchuck chuck if an upchuck could chuck up. As much upchuck as an upchuck could chuck if a upchuck could chuck up. Or something like that!
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 21:34


Matter from the stomach that has come up into and may be ejected beyond the mouth, due to the act of vomiting. 

  • 10
    Not sure there's much gained from using "vomitus" instead of "vomit".
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 1:22
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    @Barmar OP said, "I was hoping for a more formal word." It's the medical term. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 1:33
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    @Barmar: In addition to being a more standard medical term, vomitus is unambiguously the material while vomit may also refer to the action.
    – smatterer
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 1:45
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    Further, vomitus, perhaps because of it's formality and the modern use of vomit (n), feels a little old-fashioned.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:46
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    @millman97 It was used in the novel Trainspotting, when the protagonist was going through heroin withdrawal: "One bucket for urine, one for faeces, and one for vomitus." I didn't think it made him sound particularly smart. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 15:45

As you noted on comments that your context was a story set in England, I’d suggest the noun ‘sick’.

Defined in the OED as

‘vomited matter’

it is a common British-English usage. The examples from the OED however only go back to the late 1950s so it may not be historically accurate for your 19th century setting.

The OED also includes ‘Spewing n.’ as

‘Matter spewed out or vomited; spew.’

with examples from 1380 to 1880. Be aware though that the only example they give later than 1553 is from a glossary of words from County Antrim and County Down in the north of Ireland:

Spuans, what is vomited

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue ‘A DICTIONARY OF BUCKISH SLANG, UNIVERSITY WIT, AND PICKPOCKET ELOQUENCE’ has a number of colourful phrases for the act of spewing:

To cast up one's accounts

To cascade

To shoot the cat:- to vomit from drunkenness

To flash the hash

To flay (or to flea) the fox

To pump ship

But seems to lack any word other than ‘vomit’ for the ejected contents. The preponderance of ‘x the y’ phrase alternatives in an historical source but not stand alone nouns suggests that its unlikely that there is a swath of nouns waiting to be found.

  • To cast up one's accounts is probably the most common of this list, but really doesn't lend itself to a noun use.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:49
  • I realised that but after editing down my comment it didn't come across. It could still be a useful phrase for the OP and lends itself to expanding on the accounts that have been cast up, but there doesn't seem to be an established noun version
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 10:03

Though not a term you'd hear outside the medical community, "regurgitated gastric contents" refers to what is thrown up from the stomach of any animal, including human beings.

  • Esomeprazole and Discoloration of Regurgitated Gastric Contents in Infants 1
  • Patients recovering from anaesthesia are normally nursed on the side so that regurgitated gastric contents do not pool in the posterior pharynx but are cleared with the aid of gravity. 2
  • Anaesthesia and sedation depress or block the functioning of protective upper airway reflexes, making pulmonary aspiration of vomited or regurgitated gastric contents likely. 3

If you write about the "post-mortem" of a character, the medical examiner might use that term.

  • wiktionary.org : "Noun regurgitant (countable and uncountable, plural regurgitants) That which has been regurgitated; vomit." - oxforddictionaries.com : "regurgitant adjective. Medicine. Of or relating to regurgitation; characterized or accompanied by regurgitation."
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 23:43
  • The polite word for vomit is regurgitate. OP should work around that, one way or another, unless they want to opt for a word that no one's ever heard of (emesis).
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 23:50
  • @Mazura The OP is asking for a noun. "Regurgitant" is an adjective and "regurgitate" is a verb. In medicine, when we refer to the material thrown up from the stomach, we say the "regurgitated gastric contents", a fixed phrase. Believe me, or check
    – Centaurus
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 0:20
  • regurgitation : noun (I just like the sound of regurgitant ;)
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 0:28
  • As a native speaker of Greek I want to point out that emesis usually describes the process. My English dictionary agrees, defining: ‚the action or process of vomiting‘.
    – Ludi
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 23:41

Courtesy of Merriam-Webster


noun eme·sis \ ˈe-mə-səs , i-ˈmē- \

an act or instance of vomiting

A formal medical term that was used by British doctors in the 19th century. From Google Books we have the following examples, Medical Record, 1890

Much has been written of late years on the subject of the vomiting of pregnancy and its most aggravated form, hyperemesis gravidarum, or uncontrollable vomiting.


The heart's action was feeble, but not increased in frequency. There was no perspiration in any part of the body. The feet and whole lower extremities were cold and palsied, and hung powerless over the father's lap, in marked contrast to the rest of the body, which was so much agitated. There had been some emesis from the emetics given, but not free; a tablespoonful of a tablespoon of mustard and another of salt were immediately mixed with some warm water, and pressing the tongue strongly down I attempted to make the child swallow it;

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    The typo in the title is not mine but that of Google Books, hence the strikethrough. I can see why GB interpreted the letter H as an M, but how it confused the letter O in HO as ME is a little bewildering.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 23:40
  • @Mazura it's a typo, scroll to the book cover, that's why I used the œ letter.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 0:00
  • This answer looks the best for what the OP is after. Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:38
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    As a Greek I have to welcome your suggestion. However it seems that the English word, like the Greek one, describes the process not the ejected matter.
    – Ludi
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 23:44

Not specifically a synonym for vomit, but more of a euphemism: effluvium.

2 : a by-product especially in the form of waste
from m-w.com

Being from the Latin for "the act of flowing out", it seems appropriate as a more genteel description of the result of involuntary regurgitation.



From Merriam-Webster.com: Matter (as vomit) ejected from the body.

This is the 'medical definition'. Is also used for other ejections, such as from a volcano.


Oxford Thesaurus of English:

vomit, verb

  1. he desperately wanted to vomit: be sick, spew, spew up, fetch up; heave, retch, reach, gag; N. Amer. get sick; informal throw up, puke, chunder, chuck up, hurl, pray to the porcelain god, do the technicolor yawn, keck, ralph; Brit. informal honk, shoot the cat, vom; Scottish informal boke; N. Amer. informal barf, spit up, upchuck, blow chunks, toss one's cookies, blow chunks; Austral./NZ informal go for the big spit, play the whale, yodel, perk; archaic regorge, purge, brake, cascade; rare egurgitate.
  2. I vomited my breakfast all over the car: regurgitate, bring up, spew up, heave up, cough up; Medicine reject, lose; informal chuck up, throw up, puke; Brit. informal sick up; N. Amer. informal spit up; archaic regorge, void.
  3. the printer is vomiting folds of perforated paper: eject, issue, emit, expel, send forth, discharge, disgorge, spout, throw out, cast out, spew out, belch; rare disembogue, eruct.

vomit, noun

the front of his jacket was stained with vomit: sick; technical vomitus, ejecta; informal chunder, puke, spew, pavement pizza, technicolor yawn, liquid laugh; N. Amer. informal barf, upchuck; archaic purge, parbreak.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    The classic Technicolor Yawn... Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 0:34
  • @Fuhrmanator sounds like a cover band.
    – Corey
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 1:28
  • +1 for "liquid laugh" - I haven't heard that one for years!
    – Spratty
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:11
  • Where's the one about driving the porcelain bus ? :)
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 11:43
  • @CaiusJard or praying at the porcelain altar
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 18:05

chyme [kahym] noun/

the semifluid mass into which food is converted by gastric secretion and which passes from the stomach into the small intestine.


bolus [boh-luh s] noun/

  1. a soft, roundish mass or lump, especially of chewed food.



I was hoping for a more formal word…. I specifically am describing a murder in nineteenth century England which involves a poison that causes muscle spasms (and vomiting).

The most likely term in a formal context in this period is vomit. That's a word used in medical texts of the time, as you can see if you look at this search and filter manually for the noun usages.

If you really need a more formal word, then vomitus would also have been understood in this sense, particularly if one was examining its consistency, so it would be plausible in a forensic sense.

A prissy (rather than formal) use might favour ejecta or even chyme (though strictly once if it was still in your stomach to potentially be vomited it was not yet chyme, so it certainly shouldn't be used in a formal sense unless perhaps you are putting words in the mouth of a character given to hypercorrection).

The act of vomiting (rather than the contents vomited) might be referred to as emesis.



Collins definition

Possibly restricted to British English. But the following would be perfectly acceptable

He woke up feeling terrible, fully clothed with his shoes covered in sick

Acceptable in language terms, that is.


For a 19th Century setting, you want something professional sounding and descriptive. A lot of the answers here are relatively modern and slang-laden - things I couldn't see an educated doctor saying.

I'd suggest something along the lines of

The body was found, wracked from his undoubted painful end, ejectum spreading from between his clenched teeth...


He was found on his bed, a foul smelling, creamy ambergris caked around his lips....


He had refluxed his last meal, in a stream of sickly bile...

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    Ambergris? Is he a whale?
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:24
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    @JonHanna No. It's just an emotive descriptive term. In the same way that someone with "a heart of ice", doesn't actually have a heart made out of ice...
    – user195888
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:27
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    Ambergris is highly valued. One would have to be deeply infatuated with someone to think of vomit caked around their lips as ambergris.
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:44

From the Cambridge Dictionary

Bring up, bring something up

She was crying so much I thought she'd bring up her breakfast.

A polite, British English, phrasal verb.


I'd go with 'stomach contents' in your situation or 'former stomach contents' or 'partially digested matter' or something to that effect. Describing it would probably be more profitable than trying to fit a modern word into an older context.

Maybe 'last night's supper' or something like that.



Puke is a good, commonly used noun for vomit (the product of the act) since at least the 17th century. (Used in Shakespeare's play As You Like It in 1600)

  • Used by Shakespeare as a verb though. Dictionary.com says that puke meaning the "vomit matter" was not used until 1960s
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 11:12
  • @Mari-LouA - I agree. I checked the text of "As You Like It" online for "puk" and only found "Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms." Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:35

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