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What Does “Ad Nauseam” Mean?

Updated on September 30, 2022Grammar
  • Ad nauseam is a Latin phrase that literally means “to nausea.”
  • Use ad nauseam to describe something that’s been repeated or discussed so long that you’re sick of hearing about it.
  • You don’t need to use italics for ad nauseam.

It’s easy to get the impression that something’s wrong with ad nauseam. It’s a Latin expression after all, and even though it’s been used in English for a long time, it still defies the norms of the language. That’s why some find it hard to figure out what it means or how to use ad nauseam in a sentence. Others have trouble pronouncing it, and there are always those who are not sure how to spell it. So let’s dig in.

“. . . Doug repeated it ad nauseam . . . “

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How to define ad nauseam?

We’ll use the original meaning of the phrase as a starting point. When translated into English, the Latin phrase ad nauseam means “to nausea.” It’s pronounced [ad naw-zee-uhm], and even though it’s sometimes misspelled as “ad nauseum,” the only correct way of spelling it is ad nauseam. Although we’ve italicized the term in this post to show that we’re talking about the phrase itself, you generally don’t need to italicize it.

If you want to get a better idea of how the phrase is used, you might want to build a bit on the literal meaning and make it “to the point of nausea.” Use it when you want to describe something that has been repeated to the point that it figuratively makes you sick.

It was a valid point, but the way Doug repeated it ad nauseam diminished its impact.

The benefits of alternative economic systems had been discussed ad nauseam during the summit.

Synonyms for ad nauseam

There are a couple of less colorful English expressions you can use instead of ad nauseam. If you come across something that’s been repeated too many times, you can use the phrase “over and over again” to describe it. You can also use the adverb “repeatedly,” even though it might create a weaker expression.

For things that go on for too long, you can say that they go “on and on,” or that they are “going on endlessly.” Something that is discussed ad nauseam might also be discussed in great length or detail.

Examples of ad nauseam in a sentence

We’ve talked ad nauseam about the plethora of weapons South Florida has in their arsenal.
The Daily Stampede

Watch the news and see the same story repeated ad nauseam by well-coiffed talking heads…

The political ramifications of Clinton’s bout with pneumonia will be hashed out ad nauseam.
The Seattle Times

Songwriter and keyboardist Pete Wiggs still shudders over a spell working in a department store [in] 1986, where the traditional Slade and Wizzard songs were played ad nauseam.

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