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When a character acts as if the words they are trying to say are so repugnant or alien to them, that they are almost physically incapable of saying them at least the first time around. This results in them biting out the words through gritted teeth or slurring and stuttering on the words a few times before finally saying it properly. Possibly followed by a command that they should enjoy hearing that because it's the last time they ever will.

Reasons for this may be a prideful or arrogant character finally breaks down to admit the hero did a good job. Or someone who never apologizes, finally does and the experience doesn't agree with them.

Related to Cannot Spit It Out, Angrish and Emotionally Tongue-Tied. Often used in conjunction with Dumbass Has a Point and I Can't Believe I'm Saying This. May be a Crowning Moment of Funny if the situation is really hammed up.

Examples of Gagging on Your Words include:

Anime and Manga


 Vegeta: "Every fiber of my being wants to puke at once when I say this, but I need your he...I need your he-e-e-el..."

Gohan: "You need our help?"

Vegeta: "That, yes."



  • An ad for Miller Lite has a man stumbling over the words "I Love You" to his girlfreind (after she said it to him) but has no trouble saying "I'd love one" to a waitress asking if he'd like another.

Comic Books



 Otto: Oh, I'm so very, very, very ssssssssssssSUCK YOU!


 Harry: He killed my parents, didn't he? The one who gave me this. You know, Hagrid, I know you do.

Hagrid: First, and understand this, Harry, 'cause it's very important. Not all wizards are good. Some of them go bad. A few years ago there was one wizard who went as bad as you can go. And his name was V-...his name was V-...

Harry: Maybe if you wrote it down?

Hagrid: No, I can't spell it. All right. His name was Voldemort.

Harry: Voldemort?

Hagrid: Shh!!




 "The air ducts are not as big as all that," said Morriss.

Bigman swallowed painfully. It cost him a great deal to make the next statement. "I'm not as big as all that, either. Maybe I'll fit."


 And thus it was that on election day, October 8, 1968, the voters went to the polls and elected, as leader of the greatest nation that the world has ever seen, President Richard Milhous N...

President Richard M...

President R...

Please don't make us do this.


  Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.


Live Action TV

  • Happens hilariously in Scrubs when Cynical Mentor Dr.Cox finally tells JD that he's a good doctor. He looked like he was going to throw up.
    • The season 8 finale (originally intended to be the series finale) has Doctor Cox admit that JD is a better doctor than most doctors he's ever met, without stumbling and with lots of conviction. When he finds out that JD was actually listening when he said it, he looks like he's going to be sick.
  • Happy Days: Fonzie is physically incapable of saying he was wrong.

 Fonzie: I was wr....I was wrrr....I was wrrrr....What I'm trying to say is that I wasn't exactly right.

    • He's not the only one. One strip of Shermans Lagoon showed Megan was incapable of admitting her normally dull-witted husband was right.
  • Jon Stewart does this, a recent example was when he said he... gag... liked Bill O'Reilly. Often involves faking that you just threw up in your mouth.
  • An episode of Saturday Night Live back during Bush's presidency (the first one) had Dana Carvey's version struggling to say that he was going to have to raise taxes.
  • In Red Dwarf, Lister's attempts to teach Kryten to lie and insult people end up like this.

 Lister: (holding up a banana) What is it?

Kryten: It's an orrr... it's an orrr...

Lister: It's an orange! Come on, say it! This. Is. An orange!


 Steven: Elyse, my vocabulary develops very slowly. It took three years for me to say "President N-N-Nixon."


Stand Up Comedy

  • Richard Pryor once did a standup bit about a black activist who had great difficulty spitting out the word "white".


Web Comic

Western Animation

  • Pinky and The Brain: At one point, Brain asks Pinky how the former can be more like the latter, noting "...the words are hot in my throat..."
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, Squidward has a hard time saying "I'm sorry" to SpongeBob. So hard, in fact, that at one point his head explodes.
  • Buttercup of The Powerpuff Girls has this problem sometimes when she has to apologize.
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, Brittany can't bring herself to say she was wrong, and changes the subject instead.
  • In Dan Vs "The Dentist," it takes Dan great effort (he actually starts sweating from the strain) to say "Thank you," to Elise.
    • He has a much easier time in "Ye Olde Shakespeare Theatre."
  • Family Guy has a Shout-Out to Happy Days, when Peter establishes the church of the Fonz. Brian tells him that what he is doing is wrong and after stumbling on the word, Peter explains he can't say it because everything is right when you worship the Fonz.
  • Another reference appeared in Robot Chicken's "The Pursuit of Happyness Days".

 Chachi: Did mom leave because of me?

Fonz: Look Chachi, I don't really know who your mom is. But by leaving you she was wr-wr-wr.... She was wr-wr-wr... She was a bitch!