You puked a lot last night.

You vomited a lot last night.

Which verb is more suitable for stating that a baby vomited milk?

  • 1
    For these particular sentences (ignoring the context of a baby) they should be you puked and you vomited
    – user13267
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 9:14

5 Answers 5


I would not say either about a baby.

I would say:

Our baby spits up milk.
Our baby was spitting up milk last night. (AmE)

Puke is a crude word for vomit, so I don't think you would want to use that for an innocent baby.

A baby that does not have an illness probably is not vomiting, but has colic or gas instead.

  • 1
    Because @user73963 it indicates that the baby was spitting up milk on a frequent basis during that night, that it was not just once or twice.
    – user6951
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 6:08
  • 1
    I don't think there'd be any objection to saying that a baby puked in British English. Nobody would interpret it as any kind of moral judgement -- everyone knows that babies often puke and make other kinds of unpleasant mess. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 9:44
  • 8
    It should also be pointed out that "Spit up" is AFAIK, uncommon outside of the US.
    – Paulie_D
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 10:20
  • 3
    @jonnyknowsbest Everyday English is often biologically incorrect but that doesn't make it wrong as language. For example, almost everything (except hazelnuts and chestnuts) that we call a "nut" isn't actually a nut, biologically speaking. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 10:53
  • 7
    spitting up is American English. In British English we use the word possetting (oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/posset) or a phrase such as bringing up or bringing back some milk. Referring to vomiting or puking suggests illness which may not be appropriate when describing a post feed baby.
    – Ian Lewis
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 14:46

Neither verb is the correct past tense. The sentences should be You puked(vomited) a lot last night.

There are many other choices. http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/vomit

To Spit Up or Regurgitate are more appropriate synonyms.

  • 2
    I don't think I've ever heard somebody say that their baby regurgitated. Sure, it's a correct word but it's not the sort of thing you'd say in everyday speech. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 9:41
  • +1 Sorry for doubting regurgitate! You were right = " verb (possets, possetting, possetted) [no object] (Of a baby) regurgitate curdled milk: "bless its little heart, it’s possetting again""
    – learner
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 15:47
  • Still agree with @DavidRicherby regarding everyday speech.
    – learner
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 15:51

In British English neither, use 'posset' instead because

VERB (possets, possetting, possetted)

(Of a baby) regurgitate curdled milk

"bless its little heart, it’s possetting again"

"From time to time the baby belched and possetted back a small quantity of milk."

"Of course, Freddie pulled my hair and possetted onto it as soon as I got home again!"


NB "To be sick" or to "sick up" is also used as a more polite synonym for 'puke' or 'vomit' in British English.

'Regurgitation' is also sometimes used about babies e.g. Some babies bring up more milk than others during or just after a feed. This is sometimes called ‘possetting’ or ‘regurgitation’ or ‘reflux’. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/bottle-feeding-advice.aspx

So say: "The baby was possetting a lot last night".

("The baby possetted a lot last night" would also be ok, "was possetting a lot last night" is better if it happened over a longish period of time).

  • 2
    This must be strictly British English, because I have never heard the term "posset" before (and Chrome spel chek doesn't believe it's a word, either). Also, it can also be a milk-based dessert? Ugh. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 14:47
  • 1
    Yeah, that looks like something a baby posseted. Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 14:55
  • 2
    For my part (british, no children) I have never heard the word possetting and I would probably personally say puking or vomitting. I'm not sure what your point is that "'vomit' is disgusting". I find it quite disgusting when a baby regurgitates its food as well so this doesn't seem to be a good reason not to use vomit. And I'd personally describe puking as slang and not vulgar but that's probably a less important distinction. I will say that parents tend to have very different views than non-parents so it may be that parents are less inclined towards the terms used for adults.
    – Chris
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 16:11
  • 2
    @Chris: Yes, it's a parent thing, e.g. see all these mumsnet threads about possetting (and that's just one website). Only babies posset. Re vomit, the point is that possetting is actually different to vomitting, e.g. one author says "Very little babies tend to 'posset' a lot - in other words, they bring up little burps of milk after they have been fed." I find it a lot less disgusting than vomit but obviously that's subjective - YMMV.
    – A E
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 16:38
  • 1
    @Chris: yeah, that's true. Parents will probably understand it as will medical professionals, but 'civilians' won't necessarily. ;)
    – A E
    Commented Oct 27, 2014 at 11:39

" Throws up" is better than "pukes" when referring a baby bringing out milk when unwell.

  • True, however the OP was asking specifically about "last night" so the tense is wrong
    – Liath
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 7:12
  • Puking, vomiting, throwing up - I've heard all three used to refer to a baby being sick in the last month!
    – Jon Story
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 9:13
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

I couldn't resist.

  • 2
    P.S. In my dialect (American English, northeast, Irish-influenced), babies "spit up". Also the noun, "spit-up". "There's some spit-up on the baby's bib."
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 14:14
  • 7
    Your answer is a comment and your comment is an answer! Commented Oct 24, 2014 at 14:48
  • I paint outside the lines, what can I say.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 25, 2014 at 11:40

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