Greek Words for Flatulence

The Greek verb for farting, perdesthai, is cognate with Latin podex (“anus”) and the English verb fart. Greek has several synonyms on a sliding scale of politeness. This restores my faith in the expressive range of Ancient Greek so shaken by the absence of words for “sleep-walking” or “sleep-talking”.

Aristophanes, Clouds, 293

“I revere you, men of much honor, and I want to fart in reply”

καὶ σέβομαί γ’, ὦ πολυτίμητοι, καὶ βούλομαι ἀνταποπαρδεῖν


Bdennusthai: This means to evacuate one’s stomach, not to fart. This is also used locally in our time, for we say “he farts” (bdei).

Βδέννυσθαι: ἐκκενοῦσθαι τὴν κοιλίαν σημαίνει, οὐ τὸ πέρδεσθαι. ὃ καὶ ἐπιχωριάζει μέχρι τοῦ νῦν: βδέει γὰρ λέγομεν.

Illuminated MSS

Skordinâsthai: This means to stretch ones limbs beyond the limits of nature while yawning from weariness. Aristophanes says in the Acharnians: “I groan, I yawn, I stretch, I fart.” Some people use this verb for people waking from sleep, when they yawn and stretch their limbs. This is also used of people who twist their limbs and test them in every direction”

Σκορδινᾶσθαι: τὸ παρὰ φύσιν ἀποτείνειν τὰ μέλη μετὰ τοῦ χασμᾶσθαι διακλώμενον. Ἀριστοφάνης Ἀχαρνεῦσι: στένω, κέχηνα, σκορδινῶμαι, πέρδομαι. τινὲς δὲ περὶ τοὺς ἐγειρομένους ἐξ ὕπνου, ὅταν χασμώδεις ὄντες ἐκτείνουσι τὰ μέλη: ὅπερ συμβαίνει καὶ περὶ τοὺς ἄλλως πως βασανιζομένους καὶ διαστρεφομένους τὰ μέλη.

Apopnein and diapnein: “breathing out” and “releasing air”. These words mean to fart, but they are more polite than apopsophein (“breaking wind”).

Ἀποπνέω: γενικῇ. Ἀποπνεῖν καὶ διαπνεῖν τὸ πέρδεσθαι, εὐσχημονέστερον τοῦ ἀποψοφεῖν.

Apopsophiein: This means “to fart”, but it is more respectable. Even more polite are the words diapnein and apopnein.

᾿Αποψοφιεῖν: τὸ πέρδεσθαι, εὐσχήμως λέγων. εὐσχημονέστερον δὲ διαπνεῖν καὶ ἀποπνεῖν.

Some Latin reflections:

Cicero, de Divinatione 1.30

“Plato therefore encourages people to go to sleep with their bodies thus disposed that there be nothing which could introduce any wandering from or disturbance of sleep. From which it is thought that the Pythagoreans prohibited the consumption of beans, because that food causes a great flatulence which is contrary to the tranquility of a mind seeking the truth.”

Iubet igitur Plato sic ad somnum proficisci corporibus adfectis, ut nihil sit, quod errorem animis perturbationemque adferat. Ex quo etiam Pythagoreis interdictum putatur, ne faba vescerentur, quod habet infiationem magnam is cibus tranquillitati mentis quaerenti vera contrariam.

Suetonius, Divus Claudius 32

“He is even said to have considered passing an edict, by which he would give license to farting at dinner, because he had heard of a man who had nearly killed himself by holding it in for shame.”

Dicitur etiam meditatus edictum, quo veniam daret flatum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi, cum periclitatum qvendam prae pudore ex continentia repperisset.

Kraipale: Ancient Greek For Hangover

Some necessary information for all those who over-indulge….


Suda: Kraipalê: “hangover”: The pounding from excessive wine-consumption. We also find the participle “reveling”, which indicates someone behaving inappropriately because they are drunk. The etymology is that people who are drunk have their heads (karê) pound (pallein). Or it is because they make mistakes (sphallesthai) in the correct time (kairon).

Κραιπάλη: ὁ ἐκ πολλῆς οἰνώσεως παλμός. καὶ Κραιπαλῶν, ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐκ μέθης ἀτακτοῦντα, μεθύοντα. ἀπὸ τοῦ κάρα πάλλειν τοὺς μεθύοντας. ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ σφάλλεσθαι τῶν καιρίων.

Drunk vase

Aristotle, Problems 873b 17-23

“A hangover is a roiling even as the swelling is dying down. It hurts more than being drunk because the first makes men witless but a hangover brings them pain when they have all their faculties. As those who are overcome by fever often joke instead of experiencing pain, when they are back in their right minds they regain their suffering and feel pain. The same type of thing happens with hangovers and drunkenness.”

ἔστι γὰρ ἡ κραιπάλη ζέσις τις καὶ φλεγμασία λήγουσα. λυπεῖ δὲ μᾶλλον τῆς μέθης, ὅτι ἐκείνη μὲν ἐξίστησιν, ἡ δὲ κραιπάλη ἐν αὑτοῖς οὖσι τὸν πόνον παρέχει· καθάπερ οὖν καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν πυρετῶν οἱ λαμβανόμενοι παίζουσι μᾶλλον ἢ ἀλγοῦσι, παρ’ αὑτοῖς δὲ γενόμενοι οἱ αὐτοί, κουφισθέντες τοῦ πάθους, ἀλγοῦσιν. ταὐτὰ γὰρ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς κραιπάλης καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς μέθης συμβαίνει.


Suda: “Headache, hangover: also, drunkenness.”

Καρηβαρία: ἡ μέθη.


Hesychius: “to weigh down the head”. When one is drunk from wine and gets a pain in the head.

καρηβαρεῖ· βαρύνεται κεφαλήν. ἐξ οἴνου μεθύει κάρην δὲ κεφαλήν


Photius: “Heavy in the head” Weighing down your head from drinking wine.

Καρηβαρῶν: τὴν κεφαλὴν βαρούμενος ἀπὸ μέθης οἴνου.


Suda: “Yesterday-talking: bad-talking”

Χθεσιφωνῶν: κακολογῶν.


Suda: Apokraipalismos: “Sleeping it off”: Hangover and drunkenness relief.

Ἀποκραιπαλισμός: τῆς κραιπάλης ἀπαλλαγὴ καὶ μέθης.


Aristotle, Problems 873a 37

“What’s the reason that cabbage cures a hangover? Is it because its’ fluid is sweet and has purgative effects—which is why doctors apply it to cleanse bowels too—even as it is cool itself?…For those who are hungover, cabbage juice channels drinking’s humors which are bitter and undigested into the bowels while the  fruit left behind in the stomach cools the body…”

Διὰ τί ἡ κράμβη παύει τὴν κραιπάλην; ἢ ὅτι τὸν  μὲν χυλὸν γλυκὺν καὶ ῥυπτικὸν ἔχει (διὸ καὶ κλύζουσιν αὐτῷ τὴν κοιλίαν οἱ ἰατροί), αὐτὴ δ’ ἐστὶ ψυχρά… συμβαίνει δὴ τῶν κραιπαλώντων τὸν μὲν χυλὸν αὐτῆς εἰς τὴν κοιλίαν κατασπᾶν τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς ὑγρά, οἰνηρὰ καὶ ἄπεπτα ὄντα, αὐτὴν δὲ ὑπολειπομένην ἐν τῇ ἄνω κοιλίᾳ ψύχειν τὸ σῶμα.

Drunk vase 2