The Grammarphobia Blog

Is “bloatation” a word?

Q: Is there a noun to express what I suffer when I feel bloated? For instance, “bloatation” (along the lines of “flotation,” from the verb “float”). Does such a word exist?

A: The noun “bloatation” doesn’t exist—that is, it’s not in standard dictionaries or the Oxford English Dictionary.

The online Urban Dictionary, whose users define slang terms, does include an entry for it with a couple of less-than-serious definitions. And we got more than 9,000 hits when we googled it.

But “bloatation” isn’t ready for prime time. If enough people start using it, though, it may eventually make its way into mainstream dictionaries.

However, why bother coining a new word when there’s already a pretty good noun for the condition you describe: “bloatedness”?

Although you won’t find “bloatedness” in most standard dictionaries, the OED has an entry for it with citations going back to 1660. It means a “bloated quality or state.”

And, of course, there’s the verbal noun “bloating,” which has been around for quite a while too.

A 1753 citation in the OED from a dictionary of arts and sciences defines “bloating” as a “puffing up or inflation of the exterior habit of the body, lodged chiefly in the adipose cells.”  

All the words having to do with bloatedness and bloating began with an adjective, “blowt,” meaning puffed up, which was first recorded in 1603, according to the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology.

This adjective in turn developed from an Old English verb, blawen, which is the source of the modern verb “blow.”

The past participle “bloated” was first recorded in 1664 in the sense of “swollen, puffed up, turgid; esp. as describing the effect of gluttony and self-indulgence,” the OED says.

You also mention “float,” which we touched on in a blog entry earlier this year. And we’ve written about “bloviate,” a word that the OED says is probably derived from the verb “blow.”

We’ll stop here, lest we be accused of bloviating!

Check out our books about the English language