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ad nauseam

Ad nauseam refers to something that is repeated to the point of being extremely annoying.

As you have probably guessed from the nausea root in this term, technically something should be repeated to the point of making someone sick before it is classified as being repeated ad nauseam. However, people rarely get physically ill solely from listening to or watching something that is repeated ad nauseam. However, they may wish they were able to throw up on the perpetrator to show their displeasure.

Contrast ad nauseam with ad infinitum. Ad infinitum means repeated very often. Technically, it means repeated infinitely, but there is rarely enough time in anyone’s life to repeat anything infinitely unless you’re a deity and, even then, who would want to do it anyway? As a result, a lower standard is typically applied to ad infinitum. Consequently, in common usage of the term, something that is repeated ad infinitum doesn’t necessarily have to be repeated any more times than something that is repeated ad nauseam.

Thus, there is a fine line between ad nauseam and ad infinitum, the difference being that the former is so annoying as to virtually make people sick, whereas the latter doesn’t necessarily do so. Nevertheless, don’t expect that staying on the ad infinitum side of the line between ad infinitum and ad nauseam will be enough to permit you to keep many friends.

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