If you want to talk about vomit, and even if you don’t, you’ve got a whole cornucopia of options. But which ones are the least terrible?
Here’s a ranking of every common name for throwing up, determined by assessing grossness, clarity, creativity, and general usability.
1. Throw Up
“Throwing up” is simple and classic like a little black dress. It’s not too clinical and what it lacks in creativity it makes up for with no-frills appeal, which is what you want if you just threw up.
While “throwing up” wins, it can still be problematic: for example, the overuse of “I just threw up inside my mouth a little.” Maybe try throwing up outside your mouth for once.
“I vomited” is a little clunky to say and a little “oh, I talk like a fancy doctor,” but it gets your message across loud and clear while keeping things as classy as possible, considering you vomited. But 0 creativity points.
“Barf” should be applauded for delicately walking the line between slang and crassness. It allows you to have fun without being too graphic. Fun fact: “Barf” as a term for vomiting originated in the 1940s, as did the term “barf city.”
“Yak” is lighthearted with an edge. Slightly more sophisticated than “barf,” but still not something you’d say to your grandmother. It loses clarity points for sharing its name with an animal.
“Puke” seems like one of the more accepted terms among cool people and binge drinkers, especially when it comes to the concept of “puke and rally.” Though widely accepted, there’s just something inherently gross about how it sounds.
Sorry everyone named Ralph, but you have to admit there’s almost an onomatopoeia to this one. It also kind of seems like something a guy named Ralph would say.
“Heave” is the best way to portray the physical struggle that goes into throwing up. If you want to take others on a vomit journey with you, go with “heave.”
“Hurl” is a pretty aggressive choice.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who actually says “spew,” but if you do, you should shake that person’s hand.
10. Toss your cookies
It always seems depressing to associate delicious cookies with vomit, but this is your only word choice option if you happen to be someone’s wacky aunt.
11. Lose your lunch
This is about as coy as you can get when talking about vomit. Probably if you were hand-painting a tiny, delicate floral pattern onto some china and threw up, this is how you would describe it.
This is a rarely used hidden gem of a vomit word. It has unusual charm mixed with onomatopoeia, and unfortunately, a lot of people might not know what you’re talking about.
“Retch” can refer to both vomiting and attempted vomiting. Versatile!
Gagging is a good way to vomit with contempt, but it loses clarity points for its multiple definitions.
Another rare one. If you need help with the usage, here are two delightful examples from The Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions:
God, there’s earp right there on the sidewalk. That’s not urp! That’s tuna salad.
She went over by the bushes and earped and earped.
16. Spit up
As unfair as it may be, this one seems reserved for babies. There should probably be a cuter slang for baby vom like “squiggles” or “chirpees,” but we’re stuck with “spit up.”
This one is insane. And it sounds way too much like “woodchuck.” If you know someone who uses this term on the reg, be wary.
18. Drive the porcelain bus/Kneel before the porcelain throne
This is trying WAY too hard. We get it, you’re talking about a toilet. If you’re someone’s wacky uncle, then MAYBE you can get away with this, but proceed with extreme caution.
19. Blow chunks
This is by far the worst. The imagery, dear god, the imagery.
If you delve deep into the world of vomit slang, there’s an endless black hole of really weird, horrifying terms that no one ever uses.
Here are a few of the best ones:
Tossing A Sidewalk Pizza
Bring it Up For a Vote
Liquidate Your Assets
Call to the Seals
Prepare Dinner for a Racist
Big Vom Dot Com