Is 'pass motion' used by native speakers?

Karen123456

Senior Member
Malaysia English
I am aware that the following question may be offensive to most native members, but I would like to know whether the following term is used by native speakers. If not, what is the correct term?

The term "pass motion" is often used in Asian countries such as India, Singapore and Malaysia to refer to defecate.

Sorry for asking a sensitive question, but I am at a loss what the correct term should be.

Thanks.
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I've never heard it at all... we talk about bowel movements, so perhaps motion springs from movement. But ever one to take latrine research one step further, I asked my Indian wife who was born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, if she'd ever heard it and her immediate reply was, "Yes... to go to the toilet" (accompanied by that Are you kidding me? look). So thank you for that little insight into the woman. :)
     
    Last edited:

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    "Motion" for bowel movement has a long history: the first OED citation is from Shakespeare:)

    When I was a child, the family expression was "do a motion" rather than "pass a motion", but "pass a motion" doesn't surprise me at all. Here are a couple of OED citations:
    1975 J. M. NAISH Understanding your Bowels ii. 11 This signal from stomach to colon is known as the gastro-colic reflex and in some people is so powerful that they always have to pass a motion soon after a meal. 1991 D. HARPER Train your Dog (BNC) 90 If you follow a similar path every day, then getting your dog to pass a motion will be easier to achieve by building on the previous training.
    That said, I'm fairly sure a doctor wouldn't use the term "motion" but would ask "have you moved your bowels today, Mrs Smith?"
     
    Hi, Karen,

    Pass a motion sounds perfectly normal to me, and nobody would find it offensive (there are some far ruder terms for this natural bodily function).

    I always have to laugh at the old joke about a man bathing in the sea near a sewage outlet. He wasn't actually swimming - just going through the motions.

    (Collapse of stout party.)

    Rover
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Passed a motion sounds to me like the kind of medical euphemism a doctor may have used fifty years ago. Nowadays they try to be more comprehensible. See for example here:
    no control over when you go to the toilet http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/help/bodykey/questions/index.aspx?nodes=9292FUvj8eqrZTeDnpgnfDECr69POc525Nd1dao%2FtJ4%3D
    Do you regularly lose control of your bowels (pass faeces/stools/poo) when you do not mean to? http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/help/bodykey/questions/index.aspx?nodes=bheHSZHRjkil8adVSci/w8eiFnokw9I+gizlOfDwcMoHL1pt2erqlsJNIlWANDnQgby7zsLOnMqBY8yeL4XIP1IB/C8WRIXy
     
    Last edited:

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I agree with Rover; it's a fairly familiar term to me, but it sounds the sort of thing a doctor might say to a patient (or in medical advice generally). I don't think it's heard much in conversation--not that conversations on the topic are often heard.

    However, you must note that the phrase in British English is "pass a motion", not "pass motion".
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Oh yes, thoroughly familiar to me, but it's something my mum might use, not me. I wouldn't be too surprised if a doctor here used that with me, but nowadays it's more likely that they'd ask if I'd moved my bowels, or whether I had passed stools.

    Karen - is your concern to do with what to teach people to say? Or are you just curious? I don't think there is a single 'correct' term.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I do notice that everyone who knows the term is a BE speaker, including my wife.
    I was unable to find the phrase on any US website, although there were quite a few on British and Commonwealth ones.

    Although I agree with Teddy that doctors and health advisers have modernized their language somewhat, the term still appears on quite a few NHS and related sites.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I've never heard that used in this way. Do committees also pass a motion in BE without eliciting a few stifled giggles? :) "The motion was passed" is a very common phrase in American English found in the minutes of a meeting.
     

    shawnee

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    I've never heard that used in this way. Do committees also pass a motion in BE without eliciting a few stifled giggles? :) "The motion was passed" is a very common phrase in American English found in the minutes of a meeting.
    It has never raised an eyebrow:)
     

    Karen123456

    Senior Member
    Malaysia English
    Oh yes, thoroughly familiar to me, but it's something my mum might use, not me. I wouldn't be too surprised if a doctor here used that with me, but nowadays it's more likely that they'd ask if I'd moved my bowels, or whether I had passed stools.

    Karen - is your concern to do with what to teach people to say
    ? Or are you just curious? I don't think there is a single 'correct' term.
    Where I live. it is commonly heard. However, I referred to dictionaries but cannot find the term. I found 'pass water' and 'pass urine' in my dictionaries, so I was surprised that 'past motion' or 'pass a motion' doesn't seem to exist.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Where I live. it is commonly heard. However, I referred to dictionaries but cannot find the term. I found 'pass water' and 'pass urine' in my dictionaries, so I was surprised that 'past motion' or 'pass a motion' doesn't seem to exist.
    I grew up in Kuala Lumpur, so I know what you're talking about, Karen. If you look at reputable dictionaries under 'motion', I think you will find something. Here is the Macmillan Dictionary, for example:

    motion
    3[COUNTABLE/UNCOUNTABLE] FORMAL the process of getting rid of solid waste from your body

    a. the solid waste matter that you get rid of from your body
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    This AmE speaker has never heard of the expression "pass a motion" or anything similar and wouldn't understand it.
     

    Karen123456

    Senior Member
    Malaysia English
    Imotion
    3[COUNTABLE/UNCOUNTABLE] FORMAL the process of getting rid of solid waste from your body

    a. the solid waste matter that you get rid of from your body
    Thanks. Natkretep, but you are looking at the meaning of 'motion' as a noun.

    So it doesn't follow that 'pass motion' is recognised if my interpretation is correct. Furthermore, the term is not found in the Macmillan Dictionary.
     
    Last edited:

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Karen, 'motion' is a noun in the phrase 'pass [verb] motion [notion]'.

    Here is the Oxford English Dictionary, with quotations including 'pass a motion' in the 1975 and 1991 examples.

    e. A bowel movement (MOVEMENT n. 12).

    1602 SHAKESPEARE Merry Wives of Windsor III. i. 95 Shall I lose my doctor? No, he giues me the motions And the potions. 1766 C. ANSTEY New Bath Guide II. ii. 14 We must swallow a Potion For driving out Wind after every Motion. 1786 R. WILLAN in Med. Communications 2 118 He had..two or three loose motions. 1843 R. J. GRAVES Syst. Clin. Med. x. 111 Those who are dissatisfied with less than two or three motions in the day. 1897 T. C. ALLBUTT et al. Syst. Med. III. 737 In sprue the motions are generally very frothy. 1933 A. E. BARCLAY Digestive Tract xii. 157 When the colon is examined after a motion, it is usually found to have been voided from the splenic flexure onwards. 1975 J. M. NAISH Understanding your Bowels ii. 11 This signal from stomach to colon is known as the gastro-colic reflex and in some people is so powerful that they always have to pass a motion soon after a meal. 1991 D. HARPER Train your Dog (BNC) 90 If you follow a similar path every day, then getting your dog to pass a motion will be easier to achieve by building on the previous training.
     

    Karen123456

    Senior Member
    Malaysia English
    Karen, 'motion' is a noun in the phrase 'pass [verb] motion [notion]'.

    Here is the Oxford English Dictionary, with quotations including 'pass a motion' in the 1975 and 1991 examples.
    Thanks again, Natkretep, but the term is 'pass a motion', not 'pass motion'.

    I was wondering whether native speakers use the term 'pass motion' and, so far, it seems they have not heard or used such a term.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Thanks again, Natkretep, but the term is 'pass a motion', not 'pass motion'.

    I was wondering whether native speakers use the term 'pass motion' and, so far, it seems they have not heard or used such a term.
    Yes, I think all the British speakers mention 'pass a motion' rather than 'pass motion'.

    Nat
     

    Cypherpunk

    Senior Member
    US, English
    I'm agreeing with others (AE speakers) who say that they've never heard this phrase used. I'm familiar with older Southern dialects and phrases, but I've never heard the phrase.
    However, you will occasionally hear to pass something. The phrase that comes to mind is from a friend who had kidney stones. His doctor placed him on very strong pain medication for several days and ordered him to drink large quantities of fluids, to see if the stone would pass before it got any larger.
    Sometimes children swallow coins or small objects (I had an experience with a penny, for example), and we often say that the object passed (or even passed right through).
    Those are the closest phrases I can think of.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top