Is there an idiom with "stomach" that expresses one's concern/worries about something, something like "I got so worried that my stomach hurts" & stuff?

  • Get butterflies in one's stomach? Apr 9, 2020 at 9:48
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    Yeah, I checked that & it means to get nervous, not worried. Apr 9, 2020 at 9:49
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    Must the idiom contain only the word stomach? Worry-related idioms often involve the gut or viscera, or cause nausea.
    – rajah9
    Apr 9, 2020 at 10:29
  • More-or-less the opposite: have a strong stomach. Apr 10, 2020 at 9:34
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    @rajah9 - in British usage (I don't know about elsewhere) it is common to use 'stomach' to mean the whole digestive tract, and to use that word to talk about symptoms that really occur further along the tract, e.g. "I had a stomach upset" when a pedantic anatomist might want to say "bowel upset". This is politeness; we do not want the listener to be forced to imagine faeces, diarrhoea, toilets, etc. Apr 10, 2020 at 13:16

8 Answers 8


You could use the expression:

pit of one's stomach:

Fig. the middle of one's stomach; the location of a "visceral response." “I got a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach when they told me the bad news.”

(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs)


The adverse stimulus can be described as stomach-churning:

ADJECTIVE If you describe something as stomach-churning, you mean that it is so unpleasant that it makes you feel physically sick.

  • The stench from rotting food is stomach-churning.
  • ...that rush of stomach-churning fear at the sound of a mortar exploding nearby.

Collins COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary.

As with Cobuild's second example above, example sentences from Longman show the at least partially metaphorical broadening, certainly involving dread:

For much of the past week I have had this dreadful, stomach-churning feeling of imminent disaster.

At the end of every set of three levels a stomach-churning guardian awaits.

while Macmillan highlights the dread-inspiring nature:

  • stomach-churning: making you feel very frightened, nervous, or ill

“To worry oneself sick [about or over something]” is one – the word “sick” implies a state of nausea or illness.

“I worried myself sick about the exam results.”

“To be sick to the stomach of/with something” = to be irritated and annoyed by something but this is old-fashioned and is now reduced to “to be sick of/with [a repeated action]”

“I am sick to the stomach of your constantly complaining about everything I do!” (old-fashioned)

“I am sick to the stomach with your constant complaints about everything I do!” (old-fashioned)

“I am sick of your constantly complaining about everything I do!” (Current)

“I am sick of your constant complaints about everything I do!” (Current)

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    I've just realised that the usual expression is "I'm sick to my stomach of ..." etc. Add a reference (eg CED, M-W) listing 'sick to one's / my stomach' and I'll restore my upvote. Apr 9, 2020 at 11:18

Have one's stomach (tied) in knots

used to say that a person has an unpleasant and tight feeling in the stomach, usually from nervousness

Her stomach was (tied) in knots as she awaited the start of competition.

Cambridge Dictionary


Have butterflies (in your stomach): to feel very nervous, usually about something you are going to do.

Example: I had terrible butterflies before I gave that talk in Venice. (Cambridge English dictionary)

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    Yeah, I checked that & it means to get nervous, not worried. Apr 9, 2020 at 9:51

Another expression I don´t see mentioned is "turns my stomach" - e.g. "Seeing something like that really turns my stomach". The general meaning is that it induces nausea, stomach agitation, or makes one want to vomit due to being distasteful or disgusting.

Variants are "makes my stomach turn", "turns one's stomach", etc. Reference: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/turn-sb-s-stomach


Another common idiom would be

[This bad thing] made me sick to my stomach

This Reddit uses it

Finally watched "Bombshell" and it made me sick to my stomach.

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    I probably wouldn't use a random Reddit post as a source for a phrase and/or its use. Surely there's a dictionary that defines or explains the phrase which would be a better source? For example dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/…
    – Doc
    Apr 9, 2020 at 20:17

'Cannot stomach x,' is often used to represent x being too hard to handle (usually for a person).

For example, 'Johnny was never a good soldier because he couldn't stomach killing.'

Source: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/cannot+stomach

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    Good, but could you edit your answer to give a referenced definition of the phrase? Apr 9, 2020 at 20:10
  • While ambient is a reasonable suggestion, this answer was "flagged as low-quality because of its length and content." Would you be able to flesh it out to give it the dignity it deserves - and head off getting deleted? Apr 12, 2020 at 16:19

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