• (Informal, mainly humorous) Stomach pain or queasiness.
  • Intense anxiety or nervousness, especially with stomach queasiness.

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Example Sentences

“I had such collywobbles before my presentation that I almost didn’t make it to the stage.” 

“If you feel collywobbles coming on, take a few deep breaths.” 

“Before we reached the spot where I planned to propose, I was hit with a bout of collywobbles.”

Word Origin

English, early 19th century

Why this word?

While the definitions describe feelings of anxiety, stomach pain, and queasiness, “collywobbles” is almost exclusively used in a humorous, slangy way. It’s another way to describe “butterflies in your stomach.” There’s also a scientific explanation for this feeling: When you’re in moments of stress, your sympathetic nervous system kicks in (basically what controls the “fight or flight” response). Your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, which increases your heart rate and moves blood flow to your heart and leg muscles — away from your digestive system. This constricts the blood vessels around your digestive system, giving you the feeling of collywobbles.

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