Tag Archives: medicine
barmy

barmy

    Barm is the froth that forms on the top of fermenting malt liquors. It is used to leaven bread, and to cause fermentation in other liquors. This is why the literal senses of the adjective barmy are: – of, full of, or covered with, barm, – frothing. Therefore, barmy came to be applied […]

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‘flu’

‘flu’

  The English word flu is an abbreviation of influenza, an Italian word from Medieval Latin influentia, from which the English word influence is also derived. Besides denoting a contagious disease, Italian influenza has the various senses of English influence. But originally, both English influence and Italian influenza had the general sense of an influx, flowing matter. They […]

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malaria

malaria

  Malaria remains one of the most important causes of human morbidity and mortality worldwide, with a tremendous impact in the developing world. Theories on the cause and transmission of malaria have evolved over time, from Hippocrates’ theory of bad air in the 5th Century BC to our current understanding of plasmodial organisms as the […]

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Nostalgia is no longer what it used to be*

Nostalgia is no longer what it used to be*

  (* cf. La Nostalgie n’est plus ce qu’elle était, a 1993 book by French actress Simone Signoret.)        In Dissertatio medica De Nostalgia, Oder Heimwehe, composed in Latin and published in Basel in 1688 (1678?), a Swiss doctor, Johannes Hofer, identified and named a new disease, nostalgia:  The symptoms indicating the presence […]

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a hair of the dog

a hair of the dog

  A hair of the dog is an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover. It is from a hair of the dog that bit you, formerly recommended as an efficacious remedy for the bite of a mad dog. The first recorded use of this phrase in English dates back to 1546. In his Proverbs, Epigrams and […]

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