History

Vomitoriums Weren't Used for Vomit

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Nothing illustrates the excesses of ancient Rome more brilliantly than the vomitorium, where the rich would supposedly retire during feasts to purge their food and free their stomachs up for more. Unfortunately, though vomitoriums (or, more accurately, vomitoria) are real, this use of them is made up. The word actually refers to a passageway in a stadium or amphitheater that lets crowds "spew forth" into the stands. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first offender to use the erroneous meaning was writer Aldous Huxley in his comic novel "Antic Hay," which wasn't written until 1923.

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