Tag Archives: medicine
pansy

pansy

      The name pansy was originally applied to the heartsease (Viola tricolor, family Violaceae), now wild pansy, which has given rise to hybrids from which most garden pansies were developed (genus Viola, family Violaceae). This name is a borrowing from Middle French pensée, a transferred use of pensée, thought, the flower being considered […]

Continue Reading
cretin

cretin

  photograph: Culture, Histoire et Patrimoine de Passy       The noun cretin was first used in English by the historian William Coxe (1748-1828). In An Account of the Vallais, and of the Goitres and Idiots of that Country, published in The Annual Register of 1779, he wrote: The species of idiots I have mentioned […]

Continue Reading
toxic

toxic

  William Tell: a depiction of the apple-shot scene in Sebastian Münster’s Cosmographia (1554 edition)     The adjective toxic only dates from the mid-17th century. It is from Medieval Latin toxicus, meaning poisoned, from the Latin noun toxicum, meaning poison but originally meaning a poison in which arrows were dipped. This Latin word is […]

Continue Reading
syphilis

syphilis

  Electron micrograph of Treponema pallidum     Syphilis is a chronic bacterial disease that is contracted chiefly by infection during sexual intercourse, but also congenitally by infection of a developing foetus. This is caused by the spirochaete Treponema pallidum.   The word is from post-classical Latin syphilis, which was originally the title (in full, […]

Continue Reading
scurvy

scurvy

  photograph: Australian Skin Institute     Scurvy is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, characterized by swollen bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds, which particularly affected poorly nourished sailors until the end of the 18th century.   One of the earliest attestations of the word is in The Principall […]

Continue Reading
placebo

placebo

  William Cullen (1710-90)     The word is from classical Latin placebo, meaning I shall be pleasing (or acceptable), from the verb placere, to please. In post-classical Latin, placebo, the first word of the first antiphon of vespers in the Office for the Dead, was used as a name for that service. In the Vulgate, […]

Continue Reading
rosemary

rosemary

  Rosmarinus officinalis - Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887), published by Franz Eugen Köhler     Rosemary is an evergreen aromatic shrub of the mint family, native to southern Europe. The narrow leaves are used as a culinary herb, in perfumery, and as an emblem of remembrance. (Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis, family Labiatae)   The word is apparently a folk-etymological […]

Continue Reading
oxymoron

oxymoron

  L’ultimo bacio dato a Giulietta da Romeo (1823) by Francesco Hayez     An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which a pair of opposed or markedly contradictory terms is placed in conjunction for emphasis. For example, sweet sorrow is an oxymoron used by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet (published in 1597): Juliet: […]

Continue Reading

midsummer madness

    The expression midsummer madness means foolish or reckless behaviour, considered to be at its height at midsummer, the period of the summer solstice, about June 21st. It first appeared in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Or What You Will (circa 1600). An earlier form, midsummer maze, was used in 1523 by the English poet John Skelton in A ryght delectable […]

Continue Reading
cock-and-bull story

cock-and-bull story

  Democritus Junior (Robert Burton) from the frontispiece to the 1628 edition of The Anatomy of Melancholy       The phrase cock-and-bull story denotes an implausible story used as an explanation or excuse. The French expression sauter du coq à l’âne, literally to jump from the cock to the (male) ass, means to skip from one subject to […]

Continue Reading
123456

Unblog.fr | Créer un blog | Annuaire | Signaler un abus