"The etymology of a word should never be confused with its current definition," writes Dr. Haubrich. Some words, like amnesia, have retained their Greek origins, while artery comes from the Greek combination of "aer" (air) and "tereo" (I carry), and was the ancient term for the windpipe or trachea, not the blood vessels.
"Medical Meanings" contains more than 3,000 words and phrases; nearly a third have been revised and updated from the first edition, published in 1997. The book includes common words and expressions such as hangnail, under the weather, and hair of the dog.
Hangnail, Dr. Haubrich writes, " has nothing to do with hanging. It is derived from the Old English ang, 'painful,' + naegl, 'nail.' How or why the 'h' became the initial letter is a mystery."
Under the Weather " has been attributed to seafarers being obliged, in the teeth of a gale, to seek shelter below deck, thus being, literally, 'under the weather.'"
Hair of the Dog, according to Haubrich, became an expression because "In days of yore it was widely believed that a wound inflicted by the bite of a dog would heal more quickly if a tuft of hair taken from the attacking dog was embedded in the open wound. There is no evidence this actually worked; more likely it only made matters worse."
"Medical Meanings" is designed not just to teach but to entertain. A review of the first edition said, "[I]t belongs in the library of everyone, whether medically oriented or not, who savors the romance of language and the fertile interplay of though
Contact: Lynda Teer
American College of Physicians