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Pronounced /ˈbrəʊməʊˌnɪə/Help with pronunciation

You might instead call it malodor, halitosis or fetor ex ore (which is just Latin for “bad smell from the mouth”), but bromopnea is the most technically arcane term for the condition.

If it reminds you of the element bromine, that’s appropriate, since both words come from Greek bromos, a stink (the element was given that name because it has an irritating smell). A closely similar medical term is bromidrosis for strong-smelling sweat. In our case, the second element is from Greek pnoe, breathing, which also turns up in words such as apnoea, temporary cessation of breathing, often while asleep, and tachypnoea, abnormally rapid breathing (pneumonia is a closely related word, from pneumon, lung).

In the UK, the spellings ending in -pnoea are still usual, but the US forms in -pnea are increasingly common, and bromopnea never seems to be spelled any other way.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 13 Sep. 2003

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-bro2.htm
Last modified: 13 September 2003.