Word of The Day for Sunday, June 19, 2011


te•nes•mus (tuh-NEZ-muhs, -NES-)  n

a distressing but ineffectual urge to evacuate the rectum or bladder
1527; from L. tenesmos, from Gk. tenesmos “straining,” from teinein “to stretch”

Related Words: tetanus, hypotenuse, neoteny, tendon

Sentence Examples:
• The general complaints of disease among us, were a dizziness in the head, great weakness of the joints, and violent tenesmus, most of us having had no evacuation by stool since we left the ship. I had constantly a severe pain at my stomach; but none of our complaints were alarming; on the contrary, every one retained marks of strength, that, with a mind possessed of any fortitude, could bear more fatigue than I hoped we had to undergo in our voyage to Timor. - The Mutiny, On Board His Majesty's Ship Bounty; And The Subsequent Voyage Of Part Of The Crew, In The Ship's Boat, William Bligh

• This may be given as an emulsion with pancreatic extract. This will suit some people well, and result in a single passage daily, but in others may be annoying, and be either badly retained or not retained at all, and may give rise to tenesmus. - Fat and Blood, S. Weir Mitchell

• One of the people had been so provident as to bring away with him from the ship a copper pot: by being in possession of this article, we were enabled to make a proper use of the supply we now obtained; for, with a mixture of bread, and a little pork, we made a stew that might have been relished by people of far more delicate appetites, and of which each person received a full pint.  The general complaints of disease among us were a dizziness in the head, great weakness of the joints, and violent tenesmus. - Great Sea Stories

Sources: Merriam-Webster, Online Etymology

Word-E: A Word-A-Day

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