Side effects may include haedache and stomach upset.

If I change the word order of the last two, the meaning should be the same, right? If so, why bother to have two different orders?

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Hello Pastel

Your question is interesting. Yes, it's true the phrases 'stomach upset' and 'upset stomach' are both used with almost equal frequencies. A tentative Google search hit 433,000 sites for the former and 466,000 sites for the latter.

The 'stomach upset' can be interpreted as 'stomach(n) + upset (n)'. Here the noun 'stomach' is adjectivalzed like the 'head' in 'head-ache'. The 'upset stomach' is 'upset (verb, pp) + stomach'. The verb 'upset' meant originally 'set up'/'raise up'/'erect' but these senses now got obsolete. Since 18 century, the verb has been used in the meaning of 'overturn' a boat, a car or the like. The original sense of the noun 'upset' was 'revolt', but now the sense is obsolete. The use of the noun in the sense of 'overturning' and 'disturbance' began in 19 century.

Both 'stomach upset' and 'upset stomach' are phrases quite new to English. Their first appearances in literature are as follows:
Adrian said that he had a stomach upset, and went back home [1960]
Hoffer had sent him back because of his upset stomach [1980]

In contrast with them, 'headache' is a quite old word.
It were better to tholien (suffer) a wanton burn than head ache [1225]
How many head-aches a passionate life brings us to! [1580]
His most frequent assailant was the headache [1780]
It would take a long time for a newly born phrase to get fixed as an idiomatic word or phrase.

Thank you, paco.

[Off Topic]
If memory serves me well, you've mentioned that you are an English learner yourself. May I ask what's your mother tongue? Your explanation is good and easier understood. You remind me of Mirium, a GREAT moderator here before. Emotion: smile
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Thank you for the compliment. I was born 100% Japanese and so my mother tongue is Japanese. English learning is rather my hobby. I was trained as an engineer and now working as a college professor teaching something like environmental engineering. I lived in USA to make some research work but the stay was very short, only 10 months in total. So to tell the truth, I am very poor at speaking English. May I ask you in which country you are now?


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Hi, Prof!

It's good and interesting to learn a foreign language from a non-stative point of view. I've found that, sometimes, learners prefer a native speaker's answer to a non-native's. I'm open to all opinions as long as they are helpful and make sense. You've been very helpful and I appreciate that in you, Paco! I'm from Formosa.Emotion: smile


So you are a Taiwanese! My closest friend is also a Taiwanese, Wen-Tso. I met Wen Tso at UCB (Americans often call it University of China at Berkeley). He is now living in Singapore with his Japanese wife and working as a college professor .

Chao and good luck with your English study.

Try out our live chat room.
What a coincidence![D]


I don't have any Japanese friend but I have MANY friends who can speak Japanese rather well. I admire their talent for learning Japanese. I tried it once and I yielded to it in two weeks. I'd love to memorize a few useful and interesting stock phrases.

Nice chatting with you. And thanks for your encouragement.

Hello Paco and Pastel

I hope you don't mind if I add a thought or two.

'Stomach upset' always has the air of a euphemism to me. {Tip} If you call in sick, and say you've got an 'upset stomach', no one will ask questions. Everyone knows it means something unpleasant at one end or the other.

I wonder whether the phrase began life as an advertiser's euphemism. It has a slightly artificial sound, to my ears (though now we use it all the time).

No way of proving it, of course.

How are you, MrP!

Your two cents' worth is pleasant, as always. I seldom hear people saying that they've got an "upset stomach" if they call in sick. We normally say we've caught a cold (sniffles) and no once would ask questions. They will be nicer the next day and ask you how you feel. Sometimes I feel guilty in consciousness because,actually, I had great fun yesterday. I was not sick.

I have a little question about "call in sick". "Call in" here is not a phrasal verb, right? It means you call to the office and tell them you feel unconfortable. And you are in sickness. Why woudldn't you say "call in sickness"?

Get well! Pastel. (cough cough)

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