Man intrudes into the house and takes woman with her kids hostage. I do not understand the meaning of tremor here. If it's quiver, how can you swallow it? Is it bile? Or sour saliva? Thanks for help.

“Nice place you got here.” He turns back with an appreciative nod, and I swallow down a sour tremor. His words are pleasant enough but not his tone, so hostile that my nerves stir with fright. I can hear the thoughts tripping through his brain. That we have too much. That he has too little. It’s such an about-face from his demeanor in the garage, calm and matter-of-fact even when waving around his gun, it makes my legs go mushy.

Kimberly Belle "My darling husband"

  • It's probably more figurative than literal, but the "sourness" is from stomach acid. See research suggests that anxiety might make acid reflux symptoms worse. Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 12:14
  • ... lately I often get the feeling nervous new TV presenters and the like are struggling to avoid vomiting from tension, which is reflected in a halting delivery with occasional inappropriate pauses. Which might be down to autocue problems, but I'm sure it's often butterflies in the stomach. Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


The 'tremor' is a feeling of fear or alarm. One can swallow to suppress a feeling (or its expression by the face or body). In this case, the narrator had a 'sour' feeling of fear.

Swallow (verb)

to use the muscles of your throat, as if moving something from your mouth into your stomach, because you are nervous or frightened, or are about to say something

Swallow (Cambridge Dictionary)

We can figuratively say that we 'swallow' (overcome) fear, nervousness, etc, without necessarily physically using the throat.

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