Also found in: Thesaurus, Idioms.
charley horse Muscular cramp or stiffness in an arm or leg. Reliable sources say the origin of this term is unknown. Nevertheless, a story is told of a limping horse named Charley who used to draw a roller in the White Sox baseball park in Chicago. Thus, the (apocryphal) origin of the term is based on the resemblance between the posture of an athlete suffering from a leg cramp and a limping horse.
Toward the close of the season Mac was affected with a “Charley-horse” and that ended his ball-playing for 1888. (Cincinnati Comm. Gazette, March 17, 1889)
Current today, this North American slang phrase has been popular since the 1880s.
[one’s] days are numbered Dying, almost dead; with little time remaining, nearing the end. This expression is usually used to describe someone who is critically ill and has but a short time to live; so short, in fact, that one could count the days remaining. The phrase is also frequently used to describe the imminent end of anything, particularly one’s employment.
feed the fishes To be seasick. Herbert Meade used this humorous metaphor in A Ride through the disturbed districts of New Zealand (1870):
His first act was to appease the fishes … by feeding them most liberally.
a frog in one’s throat Temporary hoarseness or thickness in the voice; an irritation in the throat. This colloquial expression dates from at least 1909 and is an obvious allusion to the hoarse, throaty croaking of frogs.
have one foot in the grave Near death, at death’s door, dying. This common expression often refers to one afflicted by a lingering, terminal illness.
He has twenty thousand a year … And one foot in the grave. (J. Payn, Luck Dorrells, 1886)
in the straw In labor or giving birth; in childbed; pregnant. This expression probably refers to the ancient custom of placing straw on the doorstep of a house to muffle the footsteps of visitors so as not to disturb a woman in parturition. One source, however, suggests that in the straw may allude to the straw-filled mattresses once common among the poor.
In the phrase of ladies in the straw, “as well as can be expected.” (Thomas DeQuincey, Confessions of an Opium-Eater, 1822)
A related expression said of a woman who has just given birth is out of the straw.
Montezuma’s revenge Diarrhea, particularly when it afflicts foreigners in Mexico. This expression is named for the last Aztec emperor, Montezuma, who lost his empire in 1520 through the trickery of the Spanish conquistadors. American and European tourists in Mexico are still plagued by this condition, perhaps as a reaction to spicy Mexican food or from dysentery generated by impure water. This expression and some humorous variations appeared in Western Folklore XXI (1962):
The North American in Mexico has coined a number of names for the inevitable dysentery and diarrhea: “Mexican two-step,” “Mexican foxtrot,” “Mexican toothache,” and, less directly if more colorfully, “Montezuma’s revenge,” the “Curse of Montezuma,” and the “Aztec hop.”
In keeping with the tradition of Montezuma’s revenge, various euphemisms for diarrhea have been coined by persons who travel to Egypt, India, Burma, and Japan, as delineated in this citation from an April, 1969, Daily Telegraph:
Prevent gippy tummy. Also known as Delhi belly, Rangoon runs, Tokyo trots, Montezuma’s revenge.
off one’s feed To be ill; to suffer from loss of appetite; to be depressed or disconsolate. This expression, originally a reference to an ailing horse, usually describes a person whose physical or emotional state effects a repulsion to food.
on one’s last legs Moribund; in a state of exhaustion or near-collapse; about to break down or fail. In this expression, legs is usually used figuratively to describe that part of a person, machine, project, or other item which allows it to move forward or continue. Last legs implies that the person or object is tired and will be unable to function at all within a short time.
on the blink Unwell, in ill health, out of condition; in disrepair, not in working order, on the fritz. This common slang expression is of unknown origin. Two possible but highly conjectural theories relate it to the dialectal meaning of blink ‘milk gone slightly sour,’ and to the U.S. fishermen’s use of the term for mackerel too young to be marketable.
out of sorts See ILL TEMPER.
the runs Diarrhea. This slang expression is derived not only from the fluid consistency and movement of the feces, but also from the celerity and frequency with which one so afflicted reaches a bathroom. The phrase is commonplace in both the United States and Great Britain. A similar term is the trots.
a shadow of one’s former self See PHYSICAL APPEARANCE.
shoot one’s cookies To vomit. This expression and innumerable variations euphemistically describe the regurgitation of recently eaten food.
If I’m any judge of color, you’re goin’ to shoot your cookies. (Raymond Chandler, Finger Man, 1934)
Among the more popular variants are toss one’s cookies, shoot one’s breakfast or lunch or dinner or supper, return one’s breakfast or lunch, etc., lose one’s breakfast or lunch, etc., blow lunch, spiff one’s biscuits, etc.
shoot the cat To vomit, especially as a result of excessive alcoholic indulgence. This British colloquialism alludes to a cat’s purported tendency to vomit frequently.
I’m cursedly inclined to shoot the cat. (Frederick Marryat, The King’s Own, 1830)
Variations include cat, jerk the cat, whip the cat, and sick as a cat.
under the weather Not feeling well, ill; intoxicated; hung over. This expression is derived from the common but un-proven belief that atmospheric conditions and health are directly correlated. The phrase usually suggests the affliction of minor ailments.
They have been very well as a general thing, although now and then they might have been under the weather for a day or two. (Frank R. Stockton, Borrowed Month, 1887)
The expression is often extended to include drunkenness and its aftereffects.
|Noun||1.||ill health - a state in which you are unable to function normally and without pain|
pathological state - a physical condition that is caused by disease
dyscrasia - an abnormal or physiologically unbalanced state of the body
illness, sickness, unwellness, malady - impairment of normal physiological function affecting part or all of an organism
invalidism - chronic ill health
biliousness - gastric distress caused by a disorder of the liver or gall bladder
infection - the pathological state resulting from the invasion of the body by pathogenic microorganisms
pathology - any deviation from a healthy or normal condition
affliction - a condition of suffering or distress due to ill health
harm, hurt, injury, trauma - any physical damage to the body caused by violence or accident or fracture etc.
unfitness, softness - poor physical condition; being out of shape or out of condition (as from a life of ease and luxury)