Nauseous and nauseated are both related to nausea, but there’s a difference. Nauseous means making you feel that you are going to vomit. Meanwhile, nauseated means feeling that you are going to vomit. In short, nauseous can be best described as “causing to feel sick,” while nauseated means “feeling sick in the stomach.”
For example, “the nauseous smell of the food makes me nauseated.” These are the traditional definitions of these words. However, both nauseous and nauseated are now accepted as interchangeable terms to mean feeling unwell.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, using nauseous to mean nauseated as in to “feel sick,” is acceptable and has been established since the 19th century. However, some still insist that “nauseous” should only mean “causing nausea.” Nevertheless, most online dictionaries such as Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online and Cambridge Dictionary define nauseous and nauseated as “feeling sick”.
Despite this, it’s still best to use the words’ traditional meanings, especially in formal writing.
When to Use Nauseous
We use nauseous as an adjective to describe a feeling that you will vomit or make you feel vomit.
Nauseous as an Adjective
Feeling that you’re going to vomit
My cousin, who’s pregnant, often feels nauseous in the morning.
The students felt nauseous after riding the rollercoaster.
Seeing zombies in movies makes me nauseous.
The nauseous smell of the food makes me want to throw up.
Annika had to lie about the nauseous flowers she received as a gift.
The stranger’s nauseous comments were inappropriate in the circumstance.
When to Use Nauseated
We use nauseated as an adjective and verb. As an adjective, nauseated means to describe a feeling that you are going to vomit or sick. As a verb, it is the past tense of the verb “nauseate,” and it means to make someone feel that they are going to vomit.
Traditionally, nauseous strictly means “feeling sick in the stomach,” but now, both nauseous and nauseated can be used interchangeably for that meaning.
Nauseated as an Adjective
Feeling that you’re going to vomit
I felt nauseated after a long bumpy ride.
She was feeling nauseated these past few days and decided to wear loose clothes.
The smell of the garbage makes me nauseated.
Nauseated as a Verb
To make someone feel nauseous
After going on a food crawl, the thought of food nauseated her.
Hearing him talk all day negatively about others nauseated me.
The smell of the strong perfume inside the train nauseated the kid badly.
Nauseous vs. Nauseated: Is There a Difference?
Traditionally speaking, there’s a difference between nauseous and nauseated. Nauseated means “experiencing nausea,” and nauseous means “causing nausea.” However, it’s now acceptable to use nauseous and nauseated to mean “feeling sick in the stomach.” Hence, nausea and nauseated are interchangeable in that definition.
However, it’s still best to observe the traditional distinction for formal or professional writing. When writing casually and choosing not to follow it, don’t worry; no one will likely notice.
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Nauseated. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/aisle
Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.) Nauseous. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved fromhttps://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/isle
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Nauseous. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/nauseous
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Nauseate. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/nauseate
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Nauseous. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nauseous
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Can You Feel ‘Nauseous’? In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/can-you-feel-nauseous-or-nauseated