Ailment vs aliment

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Ailment and aliment are two words that may be confused. We will examine the definitions of the words ailment and aliment, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

An ailment is an illness or sickness, though one that is probably but not always of minor importance. Ailment is the noun form of the verb ail, meaning to afflict someone with a minor illness. Related words are ails, ailed, ailing. The word ailment is derived from the Old English word eglan, meaning to afflict, and the suffix -ment, used to transform verbs into nouns.

Aliment is nourishment, food or comestibles. The adjective form is alimental. The word aliment is derived from the Latin word alere, which means to nourish. Aliment is a somewhat archaic term, and is usually found in classic literature or situations in which someone is deliberately attempting to sound old fashioned.


Disneyland is meant to be the “happiest place on Earth”, but it is the stuff of nightmares for one female employee at the Tokyo theme park who has suffered a nerve ailment after months of donning heavy character costumes. (The Star)

The cost savings also were seen in subjects suffering from chronic ailments: For example, SNAP enrollees with hypertension spent, on average, $2,654 less than nonparticipants with the same ailment. (The Albany Democrat-Herald)

From no other substance, solid or fluid, can so great a number of distinct kinds of aliment be prepared as from milk; some forming food, others drink, some of them delicious, and deserving the name of luxuries, all of them wholesome, and some medicinal: indeed, the variety of ailments that seems capable of being produced from milk, appears to be quite endless. (Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861)

There must be some, if not more, fowl stomachs in and around the village that need the doctor’s aid to keep it ‘all quiet on the’-alimentary canal. (The Lockport Union-Sun & Journal)