zabster (zabster) wrote in linguaphiles,

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English word: Squeamish. connotations

I'm a native English speaker.  I told my French boss today that the word "squeamish" is an adjective meaning "to get sick at the sight of blood, to feel nauseous seeing a medical program."  But then I checked the web, and found definitions like, "dainty: excessively fastidious or scrupulous," "easily disgusted;" with the examples, "too nice about his food to take to camp cooking"; "so squeamish he would only touch the toilet handle with his elbow."

I've never heard it as a negative or a positive, just a descriptive.  I never understood that the speaker meant that the squeamish person should be different, or was too uptight, just that the person being discussed felt nauseous at the sight of blood or injury.  Also, I've never heard it about used about cooking, just about nausea at medical things and blood. 

I'm from New York, and I've lived in California for many years.  Is my understanding wrong?  Or is there a more limited and less pejorative meaning in the regions where I have lived?  Thanks.

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