Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Urban legend[edit]

There is an urban legend that a vomitorium was a room used by ancient Romans to vomit during a feast so they could continue eating. This has no basis in fact. Rossami 11:59, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

From RFV[edit]


Sense - place to vomit after eating. I don't believe this is the case. Also in the Latin entry, I believe it is an adjective rather than a noun. SemperBlotto 13:09, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

This is the usual sense in which I've heard the word. There are rooms at archaeological sites termed a "vomitorium". Yes, this idea is debated as to whether that's what these rooms were really for, but the word does exist in English even if the concept is a fallacy. The structure of the Latin entry looks more like a noun than an adjective to me, but this particular word isn't in my Classical Latin dictionaries. I'll have to do some looking. --EncycloPetey 15:30, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Addendum: I found vomitorium in Alexander Souter's Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D.. He defines it as the passage behind the seats. --EncycloPetey 15:41, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
A b.g.c. search for vomitorium plus purge pulled up 4 cites in this sense, but unfortunately, none before 1994. I'm sure there are older cites, but when you search for just vomitorium, it's hard to sift through all the cites in the other sense. So, that sense is adequately cited now, but it could be better cited. —RuakhTALK 15:46, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
O.K., I got as far back as 1944 by searching b.g.c. for vomitorium plus vomit. I'm satisfied now. —RuakhTALK 15:58, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, I'm not yet convinced. 1944 was only yesterday, and those b.g.c hits are hardly works of classical erudition. I'm still of the opinion that it is a modern invention. I can't find any early mention of the usage, and there are lots of Victorian book of Roman architecture now in Google. SemperBlotto 19:00, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Note the word "supposedly" in the second definition. Kappa 19:03, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Semper, Ruakh has clearly shown that the word is used in English this way. Are you disputing the historical use of the word or the historical use of the rooms? Remember, we accept words like flying saucer and unicorn even if the referent is only mythical. --EncycloPetey 19:38, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

OK, I'll accept that. I see that Wikipedia calls it a "popular misconception". SemperBlotto 21:33, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

"although this newer sense is strictly incorrect"[edit]

That usage note needs to be rewritten somehow. If the sense were "incorrect", we wouldn't include it. It follows CFI so it's correct. We're a descriptivist dictionary, not a prescriptivist dictionary. Isn't that "usage note" more of an etymology anyway? Language Lover 22:19, 14 May 2008 (UTC)


If it's unrelated to vomiting, why does the etymology say that the word is derived from the Latin for vomit? cntrational (talk) 21:23, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

It’s called that because the entrance is like a giant throat, and when the crowd passes through and out of the entrance, it is as though the structure is vomiting people. —Stephen (Talk) 21:33, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Interesting. cntrational (talk) 18:19, 14 May 2011 (UTC)
Could this be clarified somewhere in the entry? --Languorrises (talk) 18:59, 29 September 2017 (UTC)