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Borrowed from French borborygme, ultimately from Ancient Greek βορβορυγμός (borborugmós, (onomatopoeic) borborygmus), from βορβορύζω (borborúzō, to experience borborygmus).[1]



borborygm (plural borborygms or borborygmi)

  1. (medicine, physiology, rare) A gurgling or rumbling noise produced by gas in the bowels.
    Synonym: borborygmus
    • [1707, “Borborygm”, in Glossographia Anglicana Nova: Or, A Dictionary, Interpreting such Hard Words of Whatever Language, as are at Present Used in the English Tongue, with Their Etymologies, Definitions, &c. [...], London: Printed for Dan. Brown, [], OCLC 745292392:
      Borborygm, a rumbling Noiſe in the Guts.]
    • 1829, H[enri] M[ilne-]Edwards; P[ierre] Vavasseur; Joseph Togno; E[lias] Durand, “Tonic Substances”, in A Manual of Materia Medica and Pharmacy, [], Philadelphia, Pa.: Carey, Lea & Carey— [], OCLC 956534902, pages 115–116:
      Should the dose of bark [of Cinchona trees] be too strong, or its use be too long continued, or finally, the digestive canal, or any other organ be in a state of inflammation, all the phenomena we have just mentioned become more intense and all the symptoms of phlegmasia are aggravated. Uneasiness and dry heat are felt at the epigastric region; nausea, borborygm, vomiting or alvine evacuations take place; []
    • 1837, William Stokes, “Lecture XX. Symptoms of Intestinal Worms— []”, in Robley Dunglison, editor, Lectures on the Theory and Practice of Physic (American Medical Library), 1st American edition, Philadelphia, Pa.: Published by A. Waldie, [], OCLC 240481802, page 170:
      Persons, who are much subject to worms in these countries, are generally of a pale complexion, with a bluish circle round the eyes; [] and there are various signs of irritation of the digestive tube, with itching at the nose and anus; headache; foul breath and tongue; irregular and sometimes canine appetite, nausea, hiccup, borborygmi, tenesmus, diarrhœa, and constipation.
    • 1963, Anthony Burgess, chapter 3, in Inside Mr. Enderby, London: Heinemann, OCLC 435147; republished as Enderby, New York, N.Y.: Ballantine Books, September 1969 (March 1973 printing), OCLC 802999982, book II, section 3, page 181:
      "You've been drinking too much, that's your trouble. Come on, we're going to bed." Enderby, artist to the end, made a harrowing borborygm, just like old times. Grerrrrkhrapshhhhh.
    • 1980, Betsy Erkkila, “Whitman and l’Esprit Nouveau”, in Walt Whitman among the French: Poet and Myth, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, section I (Valery Larbaud), footnote, page 182:
      Borborygms! Borborygms! / Are there also some in the organs of thought, / That one does not hear, through the thickness of the cranium? / In any case, here are some poems in their image. [Translation of a poem by Valery Larbaud.]
  2. (figuratively) A gurgling or rumbling.
    • 1997, David Solway, “Never on Sontag”, in Random Walks: Essays in Elective Criticism, Montreal, Que.; Kingston, Ont.: McGill-Queen's University Press, →ISBN, part 1, page 6:
      [Susan] Sontag then pauses for the space of a paragraph to deliver a swift verbal kick at American fiction for its technical unadventurousness, its lack of an avant-garde, and its tendency to interpretive borborygm.
    • 2002, G[áspár] M[iklós] Tamás, “Victory Defeated”, in Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner, editors, Democracy after Communism (A Journal of Democracy Book), Baltimore, Md.; London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, →ISBN, page 128:
      When the promised state of affairs failed to materialize, the specifically communist claim of authority was rendered void, and it was clumsily and awkwardly replaced by Brezhnevite borborygms of the status quo.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editors (1884–1928) , “Borborygm”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), volume I (A–B), London: Clarendon Press, OCLC 15566697, page 999, column 3.
  2. 2.0 2.1 David Grambs (1994) , “borborygm”, in The Endangered English Dictionary: Bodacious Words Your Dictionary Forgot, New York, N.Y.; London: W. W. Norton & Company, →ISBN, page 28.

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