Words: Borborygmic, adj.

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TOM RAABE'S book Biblioholism is addictive stuff, a refreshing take on the world of book-collecting. Along the way, he mentions George Gissing's standing outside a bookstore, torn between books and food, his "stomach rising in borborygmic revolt".

H.G. Wells used it in the Sunday Express in 1927: "Elephant hunters say they can tell the proximity of a herd by the borborygmic (see dictionary) noise the poor brutes emit." Unlike Wells, I shall here reveal that it means a rumbling in the bowels, from Latin and Greek by way of French, and attracts a puzzling question mark in the OED.

Aldous Huxley went the whole hog of "the stertorous borborygms of the dyspeptic Carlyle", a phrase one could adapt to many a contemporary chronicler.