3 British [no object] (of food) be tasted intermittently for some time after being swallowed as a result of belching or indigestion.
‘that cucumber repeated on me for hours’

The Oxford Dictionaries marks this usage British, and so does Longman. However, there are other dictionaries that don't specify it or don't include this meaning. Is this a Britishism? Do Americans also say "the food is repeating on me"? If not what do Americans say to describe the continued aftertaste of food?

  • I have never used "repeating" in AmE. Maybe something like "it keeps coming back for more", the idea being that the taste came back up to your mouth to be swallowed again.
    – user3169
    Dec 7, 2018 at 5:06
  • 1
    People often say that their food "kept coming back up" for hours. Of course, you could just say you had indigestion after eating that cucumber.
    – ralph.m
    Dec 7, 2018 at 5:14

4 Answers 4


It may be known more broadly than just in Britain but I've not heard it in my neck of the US (Texas) and wouldn't immediately guess at the meaning of it.

A similar question came up a couple of years ago on our sister site English Language & Usage and it seems that there are native speakers around the world - Americans, British and Australian at least - who are unaware of this usage of "repeat".

From the answers and comments:

repeat 7. to cause a taste to return after eating, as through belching –TFD - I've never heard that one before. – Mazura Jan 27 '16 at 9:23

Likewise, northeast U.S. here, and I've never heard this usage before today. – Daniel R. Collins Jan 27 '16 at 16:06

Brit here, and I've never heard this usage either. – Rand al'Thor Jan 28 '16 at 20:30

However, there were a few Americans among the other British, New Zealanders, and Australians who had heard of it, though some noted that it was rare or only heard from an older audience:

I have heard this usage, northeast US. Primarily among older generation though. – Thronk Jan 29 '16 at 16:34

As an American, I've heard this before too, in more or less the same phrasing - but only in older written pieces. I had the sense that it was a non-American usage in general, though I would've assumed British. – recognizer Jan 27 '16 at 15:22

This is a small fraction of the anecdotes on that question, so I do encourage you to review more of it.

As to alternates if it's not used in the US, that's more difficult. Personally, I'd go the uncouth route and say something like:

  • I've been burping the chili I had for lunch all afternoon.
  • Every time I burp, I get the flavor of that curry again - and it's not a good thing.
  • The flavor of those cucumbers keeps coming back [up].
  • This is very helpful. Thank you! I do wish to say that that question on ELU shows zero research and is essentially nothing but hearsay. I have no idea how a question as "Oh someone tells me that. Is it correct?" got so many upvotes...
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 8, 2018 at 2:04
  • The HNQ list. stackexchange.com/questions?tab=hot
    – Catija
    Dec 8, 2018 at 2:22

Cucumbers repeat on me.

That's a very common expression here in southeastern Pennsylvania. It refers to digestive issues, often involving "acid reflux". It is not merely that the flavor "lingers" on the tongue.

  • As an older British person (who has gastric reflux due to a hiatus hernia) I would use the term as well.
    – Sarriesfan
    Dec 7, 2018 at 15:44
  • I'd say it's not only a British usage, pace Oxford and Longman, but a "North American" phrase as well, since there are plenty of Canadian attestations too. Use of the phrase could be on the decline. I doubt you'd hear many millenials using it. In twenty years they might be saying Cucumbers give me heartburn.
    – TimR
    Dec 8, 2018 at 11:51

My father would say things like "I repeat if I eat cucumbers" while I was growing up near San Francisco. I never knew pecisely what he meant because I hadn't experienced it. He could have got the expression from my mother's Scottish side of the family. I've never heard it used otherwise in California, Pennsylvania, or Colorado.


I think the most common phrase for that is lingered, or more often put as "lingered on my tongue."

1: to be slow in parting or in quitting something : TARRY fans lingered outside the door
2b : to remain existent although often waning in strength, importance, or influence lingering doubts lingering odors
(From Merriam-Webster dictionary)

  • This is definitely not the meaning of "repeat" in this context in British English. It specifically refers to digestive problems, generally acid refulx / heartburn, as has been stated. Jan 12 at 15:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .