This to be used in a sentence with:

a somethingish discharge

I like "pustulous discharge" but 'pustulous' is of pustules not of their content.

'Pusy' would be a natural but doesn't look like what it's trying to mean so..

  • 5
    There’s purulent, but that more commonly means ‘leaking pus’, so a scab or wound would be more likely to be purulent than the discharge itself. Commented Jun 24, 2019 at 23:13
  • 7
    If that's the word you're looking for, maybe vocabulary isn't your biggest problem just now.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 2:36
  • 1
    This is wrong but it was funny to me: pusillanimous Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 19:44

9 Answers 9


The word pustulent, seems exactly what you are looking for, but since no one has suggested it yet, perhaps there is something wrong with it.

Filled or oozing with pus


  • 1
    This is a good alternative to purulent.
    – barbecue
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 13:52
  • 1
    This is good because it contains the word 'pus'. I had previously chosen 'purulent' but the meaning is not as clear as it is with 'pustulent' Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 14:23
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    To anyone who actually knows the word, it is. There's nothing ambiguous about "purulent".
    – Beanluc
    Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 22:03
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    This is clearly what the asker was trying to find with their own guess of "pustulous". But some people might not use this word to describe discharge, because discharge isn't "filled with" pus or "oozing with" pus; it is pus. It could be argued that pustulent would only properly describe a wound or a part of the body. That said, Google does find some instances of the phrase "pustulent discharge", so clearly some people are fine with it.
    – John Y
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 15:07
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    @StephenBoston The connection between pus and purulent is initially obscured by the change of s to r, an example of Latin rhotacism. But when you realise that this same shift has found its way into English in other places it isn't so mysterious anymore. Compare justice (from iūstitia from iūs) with jurisprudence (from iūrisprūdentia from iūris (genitive singular of iūs) + prūdēns). See also mouse (which isn't from Latin mūs, but is related to it) and the adjective murine. An example that doesn't show itself in English is Latin flōs 'flower' but English has inherited floral (from flōrālis)
    – Au101
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 23:51

The word you are looking for is purulent:

consisting of, containing, or discharging pus.
"a purulent discharge"
Oxford Dictionaries/Lexico

It is not an especially common word in general, but it is the medical word for this.


The actual adjective for pus is pussy, with a double s:

: full of or resembling pus
// a pussy wound

Note that the pronunciation starts off the same as that of pus itself—as opposed to the pronunciation of the other senses of the word.

Specific context, either through identifying the location or using it alongside another adjective, will also help avoid any confusion (and possibly unfortunate misunderstandings) when it comes to expressing it in written form:

There is a pussy discharge coming from my arm wound.
My cut is producing a yellow and pussy discharge.

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    If this is for something written, rather than spoken, you might run into the problem of people initially reading it as the other word with the same spelling, which changes the meaning drastically. Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 12:05
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    Many years ago, I put "pussy discharge" on a test for health class in high school and got a "see me after class" note from the teacher, who did not read it as an adjective for "pus". Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 14:59
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    @JasonBassford as long as you're not talking about a wound caused by an axe, I guess you might get away with it.
    – dkwarr87
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 16:01
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    Am I the only person who briefly misread the word "cut" in the last example sentence? Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 19:55
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    Never use this word in writing! There is anyway no need for it -- you can use purulent instead. (In speech, it's fine, because the pronunciation disambiguates it.)
    – TonyK
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 20:03

Both putrid and putrescent derive from the same root as pus.

Per etymoline, pus is related to the Latin puter (rotten) and putere (to stink). Putrid made its way into English from these same roots in the 15th century in reference to typhus, aka putrid fever. Putrescent was a later addition, coming into English in the 17th century. Both words would carry the sense that the discharge was foul-smelling.



from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition. intransitive verb To form or discharge pus.


"a suppurous discharge"


pus-like adj. OED a derivative of pus; more of a layman's term.

As in:

2001 Cats June Most bacterial infections that I have seen create an effusion of pus-like fluid.

  • 2
    But something that is "pus-like" does not need to be pus, does it? Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 7:20

If you are doing Medical Transcription, I would use what the doctor dictates on that one, or leave a blank as guessing is not good. Doctor may be describing color, amount of pus. Go with what you are confident. Legal document.

  • 1
    Do you have any examples of what a doctor might say?
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 15:53
  • Perhaps the OP is that doctor.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 6:19


Given so finely Latinate a verb as suppurate is for a jumping off point, lots of different possible suffixes could be used for deriving an adjective. But of these, suppurating (as in suppurating sores) is the only one that sees much present-day use.

Per the OED, it means:

Forming, containing, or discharging pus; characterized by suppuration; suppurative. Also in figurative context.

Older choices no longer viable outside a period piece include supperative, suppurable, suppurant, suppurate, suppurated, suppurant, suppuratory.


While it doesn't mean the exact same thing, the word 'viscid' might be a good fit.

1a : having an adhesive quality : sticky

b : having a glutinous consistency : viscous

Merriam- Webster

  • 2
    The meaning isn't quite right--honey, which is delicious and lovely, has those qualities too--but it does sound gross, which might let it work in fiction ("Viscid green mucus dripped from the dragon's nose and sizzled onto the rocks"), if not a medical text. Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 14:25
  • @MattKrause - The asker is definitely looking for mood-setting rather than accuracy. (They've since added comments regarding purulent versus pustulent that make this clear.) We don't have to worry that people will mistakenly think of something pleasant when they see viscid in this case, because the full phrase, as expressed in the question, would be "viscid discharge". (And honestly, even when used to describe honey, "thick and sticky" doesn't really sound pleasant to me.)
    – John Y
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 15:20
  • Honeyed with a purulent discharge ooh lovely
    – Jelila
    Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 2:54

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