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Borrowing from Latin vomitōrium (entrance to an amphitheatre), substantive of vomitōrius (emetic, provoking vomiting), from vomō (vomit).


  • IPA(key): /vɒmɪˈtɔːɹɪəm/


vomitorium (plural vomitoria or vomitoriums)

a vomitorium: passage in an amphitheatre
  1. A passage located behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre used as an exit for the crowds
    • 1822, John Taaffe, A Comment on the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, John Murray, page 161,
      […] the way that the greatest width of the interior of the Flavian amphitheatre would be ascertained, if a line were drawn from one of the vomitoria of the west side, in the uppermost story, to the eastern vomitorium, precisely facing it.
    • 1844, F. Buxton Whalley, "Excursions from Rome in June 1843", in Leonhard Schmitz (Ed.), The Classical Museum, page 330,
      In the tunnel to the right and left as one enters there is a passage which contains a flight of steps conducting to a "vomitorium," situated in the second "præcinctio;" […]
    • 1906, Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen, Carthage and Tunis: The Old and New Gates of the Orient, Hutchinson, page 52,
      At each of the extremities under the grand vomitorium was a gate, one called Sanivivaria and the other Mortualis.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 174:
      Miles turned to him beaming, his nostrils taking in the ambiguous smell of molten glass rising from the vomitoria beneath them, which only he among the crew found at all pleasant.
  2. (see Usage notes) An area in which vomiting takes place, in particular a chamber supposedly used by ancient Romans to vomit during a feast so they could continue eating.
    • 1944, Lewis Mumford, The Condition of Man, Harcourt, Brace & World (1944), p. 467,
      In the rich man's house the vomitorium became an essential chamber: the place where the guzzler of rich food emptied his stomach, so that he might come back to the feast for more.
    • 1994, LeeAnn Alexander-Mott and D. Barry Lumsden, Understanding Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Obesity, Taylor & Francis (1994), →ISBN, p. 23,
      The Romans frowned on obesity, and they were accredited for [sic] inventing the vomitorium, which allowed them to binge and relieve themselves of the feeling of fullness.
    • 1997, Mervat Nasser, Culture and Weight Consciousness, Routledge (1997), →ISBN, p. 17,
      As for the Romans, they are famously known for their invention of the vomitorium which allowed them to indulge in excessive eating and relieve themselves by vomiting.
    • 2004, Dean R. Koontz, The Face, Bantam Books (2004), →ISBN, p. 326,
      The slight tremor in his voice dismayed him, but he persevered: "Vinnie's Soda Parlor and Vomitorium, home of the nine-pound ice-cream sundae, where you splurge and then purge."

Usage notesEdit

  • The sense of "a place to vomit" has come about as a misunderstanding of the original meaning of the word; although this newer sense is strictly incorrect, it is now common.


Related termsEdit



Substantive of vomitōrius (emetic", "provoking vomiting), from vomō (vomit).



vomitōrium n (genitive vomitōriī); second declension

  1. The entrance to an amphitheatre; passage behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre.


Second declension.

Case Singular Plural
nominative vomitōrium vomitōria
genitive vomitōriī vomitōriōrum
dative vomitōriō vomitōriīs
accusative vomitōrium vomitōria
ablative vomitōriō vomitōriīs
vocative vomitōrium vomitōria

Related termsEdit



  • vomitorium in Harry Thurston Peck, editor (1898) Harper's Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, New York: Harper & Brothers