General Glossary

“Clear and precise definitions of diseases and the application of such names to them as are expressive of their true and real nature are of more consequence than they are generally imagined to be: Untrue or imperfect ones occasion false ideas and false ideas are generally followed by erroneous practice." by Percival Pott in his Chirurgical Works (1765)

Abasiasearch for term

Loss or impairment in the ability to walk.

Ablepsysearch for term

Blindness. (Greek: ablepsia)

Abracadabrasearch for term

This word was believed to have magic healing powers when inscribed on an amulet. Its origin is from the Aramaic language: abra meaning "to create" and cadabra meaning "as I say." It was first mentioned in the second century book Liber Medicinalis, or De Medicina Praecepta Saluberrima by Quintus Serenus Sammonicus, physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla, who prescribed that malaria sufferers wear an amulet containing "abracadabra" written in the form of a triangle.

Achilles' Heelsearch for term

Achilles, son of the king Peleus and sea-goddess Thetis, was a fearless warrior in Homer's Iliad. As an infant his mother had dipped him in the river Styx in order to make him safe in battle while holding him by his heel which did not get wet. Apollo informed Paris of that vulnerability who then caused Achilles' death by aiming an arrow at his unprotected heel.

Achlorsearch for term

A small pustule containing a straw colored fluid on the head of young children.

Adam's Applesearch for term

The larynx and its protective cartilage is prominent in males. The myth is that when Eve gave Adam the forbidden fruit some of the apple got caught in his throat and made a lump. Also the term may be a mistranslation from the old Hebrew word for bump that is similar to the word for apple.

Addlesearch for term


Aden Feversearch for term


Adustsearch for term

Heat in the constitution and little serum in the blood.

Affectionsearch for term

A disorder of the whole body or part of it: as febrile affection or cutaneous affection, etc.

Agromsearch for term

A disease of the tongue.

Aguesearch for term

Intermittent chills and fever (as in malaria or sepsis).

Albarellosearch for term

A 15th and 16th century ceramic pharmacy jar with a narrowed waist. (Italian: alberello bottle and Latin: albus white)

Amaurosissearch for term

Blindness secondary to another disease.

American Plaguesearch for term

Yellow Fever.

Amuletsearch for term

An object worn on a part of the body to protect against illness or accidents. (Arabic: hamalet meaning a pendant)

Anasarcasearch for term

Generalized fluid retention. The most common causes of edema and ascites are the low albumin of renal or liver diseases but may also be caused by congestive heart failure.

Ancomesearch for term

A sudden small ulcerous swelling, a whitlow.

Anodynesearch for term

An analgesic for pain relief. (Greek: without pain)

Antiadessearch for term


Aphoniasearch for term


Apoplexysearch for term

Sudden paralysis, perhaps by stroke, or bleed into the brain or other organ.

Apostemesearch for term

An abscess or swelling filled with purulent matter.

Apple of Your Eyesearch for term

Since ancient times sight has been regarded as something special. The pupil is round and has the appearance of an apple so the phrase has been applied to anyone who is especially precious.

Ascites search for term

Fluid collection in the abdominal cavity.

Astheniasearch for term

Loss of strength, debility.

Athetosissearch for term

Chorea with peculiar tremors of the fingers and toes.

Autumn Feversearch for term

A fever that prevails largely in autumn such as typhoid and malaria.

Axessearch for term

Intermittent paroxysms.

Bad Bloodsearch for term


Baghdad Boilsearch for term

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis.

Balsamsearch for term

An oily resinous (balm) substance used as a base for some medications. (Greek: balsamaon)

Barber's Itchsearch for term

Ringworm of the beard.

Barbierssearch for term

A paralytic disorder peculiar to India and the Malabar coast considered to be the same as chronic beriberi.

Barking Coughsearch for term

Croup in children.

Barrel Feversearch for term

Debilitation from alcoholism.

Basket Casesearch for term

Referring to an individual totally unable to manage the easiest of tasks. The term came from the US military following WWI and referred to soldiers who had lost limbs and had to be transported by way of a basket.

Beading of the Ribssearch for term

Rachitic rosary or prominent costochondral joints as seen in disorders of calcium and vitamin D metabolism.

Bellyharm or Bellywarksearch for term


Bezoarsearch for term

From the earliest of times mineral concretions from the internal organs of animals were felt to contain magical properties, especially as antidotes to poisonous substances. The first ones were transported to Europe from Western Persian goats.

Bilious Feversearch for term

Fever, nausea, and diarrhea as a symptom of diseases including typhoid, malaria, and hepatitis.

Bills of Mortalitysearch for term

Beginning in the 17th century these were examples of "casualities" or causes of death in London that were posted: bit by mad dog, broken skull, burnt, choaked, drowned, excessive drinking, executed, found dead, frightened, froze to death, killed by falls, made away themselves, murder'd, overlaid (a mother accidentally smothering her child in bed), poisoned, scalded, shot, smothered, stabb'd, starved, and suffocated.

Bistourysearch for term

A long, narrow knife with a straight or curved blade for opening cavitiesr. (French: bistouri, dagger) A bistoury cache is a spring loaded, double bladed instrument used in Urology.

Bite the Bulletsearch for term

This term applies to the ability to undergo an unpleasant experience with grace and calm. There is a debate regarding whether or not "bullets" were given to soldiers to bite on during major surgical procedures such as amputations in the 19th century when anesthetics were not always available. Lead shot has been found near hospitals with what appear to be teeth marks, though may be animal in nature. The term first appeared in a definition of nightingale in Francis Grose's "A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" in 1796: "Nightingale -- A soldier who, as the term is, sings out at the halberts. It is a point of honour in some regiments, among the grenadiers, never to cry out, or become nightingales, whilst under the discipline of the cat of nine tail; to avoid which, they chew a bullet." Later in 1891 the term again appeared in print in "The Light That Failed" by Rudyard Kipling: "Bite on the bullet, old man, and don't let them think you're afraid." But no medical application has been documented in print so "biting the bullet" during surgery remains a controversial subject.

Bitterssearch for term

An alcoholic liquid containing a bitter substance used as a flavoring or as a tonic to increase the appetite.

Black Deathsearch for term

Bubonic plague.

Black Jaundicesearch for term

Liver infection carried by rats: Wiel's Disease.

Black Lionsearch for term

A sloughing syphilitic ulcer encountered by British soldiers in Portugal.

Black Lungsearch for term

Chronic lung disease as a result of exposure to coal dust.

Black Poxsearch for term

Hemorrhagic Smallpox.

Black Rosesearch for term


Black Tonguesearch for term

Probably typhoid fever though according to some an epidemic erysipelas.

Blackwater Feversearch for term

Dark urine and high temperature as a complication of malaria when there was hemolysis.

Blainsearch for term

A pustule or a sore.

Blear Eyesearch for term

A chronic catarrhal inflammation of the eyelids.

Blennorrhagiasearch for term


Blood Poisoningsearch for term

Sepsis or organisms in the blood stream.

Blood Turned to Watersearch for term

Weak-willed or physically weak.

Bloody Fluxsearch for term

Dysentery with bloody stools.

Blowing Smoke up Your Rear Endsearch for term

Meaning that you are being inflated by insincere flattery; in 18th century England drowning victims were resuscitated by getting tobacco smoke bellow enemas which included the stimulant nicotine.

Blue Bloodssearch for term

From the Spanish "sangre azul" and attributed the aristocracy of Castile some of whom claimed never to have intermarried with others of darker races. Their resultant light skin showed up the blue color of their veins.

Blue Boarsearch for term

A venereal disease.

Blue Coughsearch for term

Whooping cough accompanied by cyanosis caused by obstruction of the blood vessels in the face.

Blue Diseasesearch for term

Cyanosis or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Boilsearch for term

A painful circumscribed pus-filled inflammation of the skin and subcutaneous tissue.

Bone Shavesearch for term


Bougiesearch for term

A cylindrical instrument used for dilating tubular organs, such as the urethra or esophagus. (French: Bougie, an Algerian seaport from which candles were imported)

Bouquet Feversearch for term

Dengue fever.

Bowel Hivessearch for term

The vernacular name under which is included enteritis, convulsions, diarrhea, and dysentery.

Brain Feversearch for term

Inflammation of the brain or meninges as in encephalitis or meningitis.

Brain Wastingsearch for term

A mental disorder characterized by confusion or dementia.

Brainsicksearch for term

A mental disorder; insane or mad.

Brakingsearch for term


Breachsearch for term

A hernia or a rupture.

Break a Legsearch for term

Superstition plays a big role in the theatre so the best thing one can do is to wish a performer bad luck so hopefully he or she will have good luck. This practice is documented to have started in the early part of the 20th century.

Breakbone Feversearch for term

Dengue Fever.

Breakbone Feversearch for term

The "dengue triad" of fever, rash, with severe muscle and joint pains causing contortions endemic throughout the tropics and subtropics.

Breast Pangsearch for term


Bright's Diseasesearch for term

Kidney disease which is accompanied by fluid retention and often kidney failure (described by Dr. Richard Bright).

Broken Constitutionsearch for term

Loss of energy.

Broken-Wing Feversearch for term


Bromidrosissearch for term

Foul smelling perspiration.

Bronze Johnsearch for term

Yellow Fever.

Buboe (Bubo)search for term

Inflammatory swelling or suppuration of a lymph node usually in the groin.

Bucket Feversearch for term


Bulam Feversearch for term

Yellow Fever (named by the natives of the African coast).

Burkingsearch for term

Murder by suffocation originally committed by William Burke in Edinburgh in the early part of the 19th century for the purpose of obtaining anatomic material for dissection.

Burstensearch for term

Ruptured or hernia (Anglo-Saxon term).

Cacatoriasearch for term

A kind of intermittent fever attended with copious stools.

Cachaemiasearch for term

A poisoned condition of the blood.

Cachexysearch for term

Wasting (cachexia).

Cacosphyxiasearch for term

Bad state of pulse.

Caddy Stoolssearch for term

The evacuations in yellow fever which resemble sandy mud.

Calenturesearch for term

A mild fever of tropical climates. (Latin: calere to be warm)

Calenturesearch for term

A febrile delirium said to be peculiar to sailors wherein they imagine the sea to be green fields and will throw themselves into it if not restrained.

Calomelsearch for term

Early purgative and diuretic containing mercurous chloride, dangerous if abused. (Greek: beautiful and black)

Camp Diarrheasearch for term

Epidemic Typhus.

Camp Feversearch for term

A term used for all of the continuing fevers experienced by the army: Typhoid, Typhus, and Malaria Fever. The last named is a combination of elements from the first two diseases. Symptoms included chills followed by an intermittent fever, abdominal tenderness and nausea, general debility, diarrhea, and furring of the tongue.

Camp Measlessearch for term


Canine Madnesssearch for term

Rabies or hydrophobia.

Cankersearch for term

Mouth or lip ulceration.

Cantharidessearch for term

The green beetle Spanish Fly with perceived aphrodisiac and diuretic properties. (Greek: kantharis beetle and eidos shape)

Carboysearch for term

A large globular bottle used to hold liquids. (Persian: large glass flagon)

Cariessearch for term

An ulceration of the bone.

Cataclysmsearch for term

Female orgasm in a doctor's office.

Catamaniasearch for term


Cataplexysearch for term

"Shock" by fright.

Catarrhsearch for term

Upper respiratory tract infection with inflammation of the mucous membranes, mucous.

Catharticsearch for term

A substance that cleanses the bowels.

Catlinsearch for term

A long, double-edged knife, often used in amputations.

Caught Red-Handedsearch for term

The expression comes from 15th century Scotland probably from individuals caught with blood on their hands from poaching or from murdering. It was made popular with Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe in 1819: "I did but tie one fellow, who was taken redhanded and in the fact, to the horns of a wild stag."

Cephalotribesearch for term

Forcepslike instrument with a screw handle, used to crush the head in fetal abortion. (Greek: kephale, the head + tribo, to bruise)

Chalkstonesearch for term

A chalklike concretion of urate of sodium found in small joints; a tophus.

Charlatansearch for term

A quack physician. (Italian: ciarlare meaning “to chatter”)

Chiggerssearch for term

A skin infestation caused by the larva of the red mite featuring an itchy red rash to the waist, ankle, and skin folds.

Chilblainsearch for term

The painful itching or swelling of an extremity caused by poor circulation when exposed to cold.

Childbed Feversearch for term

Puerperal fever or infection of the mother at birth.

Chin Coughsearch for term

Whooping cough (pertussis).

Chiragrasearch for term

Gout involving the hand.

Chlorosissearch for term

A disease primarily of adolescent females characterized by delayed menarche, weakness, anorexia, moodiness, poor skin color: iron deficiency anemia or "green sickness."

Cholerasearch for term

Any infectious disease that is epidemic.

Cholerinesearch for term

A diarrhea prevailing during cholera epidemics.

Choreasearch for term

Jerky involuntary movements.

Chrisomsearch for term

An infant who died near the time of baptism (before they received a name).

Cicatrixsearch for term

A scar.

Clapsearch for term


Clystersearch for term


Clyster (clysis)search for term

An enema used for rectal administration of medications. (Greek: klyster, to wash out)

Colic (Colick)search for term

Severe abdominal pain caused by spasm, obstruction, or distention of any of the hollow viscera, such as the intestines.

Colocholosissearch for term

Bilious Dysentery.

Consumptionsearch for term


Cool as a Cucumbersearch for term

In early days physicians believed that an overabundance of blood caused fever so patients were commonly phlebotomized and given cucumber seeds to lower their temperature; thus the expression "cool as a cucumber."

Cordialsearch for term

A stimulating preparation usually containing alcohol with supposed medicinal value, especially for the heart. (Latin: cor, heart)

Corruptionsearch for term


Coryzasearch for term

A cold.

Costivenesssearch for term


Costs an Arm and a Legsearch for term

This means that something is very expensive. A popular (though inaccurate) explanation is that early portrait painters charged more if an arm was included and even more for the addition of a leg. The earliest citation is found in a magazine called "The Lady's Magazine: Or Entertaining Companion for the Fair Sex, Appropriated Solely to Their Use and Amusement" in 1790: "This is my sole desire—my only passion; and in order to gratify it, I would give my right arm, and my entire fortune." The expression became popular after WWII in light of the losses suffered by veterans during the war.

Coulsearch for term


Counterirritantsearch for term

A substance or device that irritates one area of the body presumably to relieve pain in another part.

Coursessearch for term

A popular English term for menses.

Covent Garden Aguesearch for term

Venereal disease.

Cramp Colicsearch for term

Appendicitis which often lead to sepsis, rupture and death.

Cranioclastsearch for term

A strong forceps used for crushing and extracting the fetal head after perforation. (Greek: kranion, skull + klao, to break in pieces)

Crinkumssearch for term

Venereal disease.

Crochetsearch for term

A hooked instrument used for removing an aborted fetus. (French: croche, hook)

Croupsearch for term

Laryngitis, strep throat.

Cruelssearch for term


Cupping (wet and dry)search for term

The act of applying a heated cup to bring blood to the skin to act as a counterirritant (dry), or to bleed (wet).

Cynanchesearch for term

Inflammation of the throat.

Dancing Plague (or Mania)search for term

St. Vitus' Dance.

Dandy Feversearch for term

See Breakbone Fever.

Decoctionsearch for term

The substances left after the heating or boiling of herbs which were often used as medications, coffees, teas, or tinctures. (Latin: de coquere, to cook)

Decrepitudesearch for term

Elderly and feeble.

Dementia Praecoxsearch for term


Dental Keysearch for term

A key shaped instrument used to remove teeth.

Derangementsearch for term


Diarrheasearch for term

(Synonyms) alvine flux, Delhi belly, dysentery, flux, loose bowels, Montezuma's revenge, quickstep, runs, shits, trots, turista

Diary Feversearch for term

Fever that lasts only one day.

Diathermysearch for term

Local elevation of temperature of tissues by high frequency current, ultrasonic waves, or microwave radiation for therapy. (Greek: dia, through, + therme, heat)

Distempersearch for term

Any disease, likely an infectious disease.

Dock Feversearch for term

Yellow Fever that was often brought ashore by inbound ships.

Dripsearch for term


Dropsysearch for term

Fluid retention (from heart, liver, or kidney disease).

Dyscrasiasearch for term

Any faulty state of the constitution or an abnormal bodily condition, especially of the blood.

Dysentarysearch for term

Intestinal inflammation with passage of mucous and blood.

Dystociasearch for term

A difficult delivery.

Ecraseursearch for term

Instrument used to crush tissue. (French: ecraser, to crush)

Edemasearch for term

Fluid retention most noticeable in the lower extremities.

Effluviasearch for term

An offensive exhalation or smell.

Effluxionsearch for term

Abortion when it occurs prior to three months

Electrostatic Generatorsearch for term

A therapeutic device that creates static electricity.

Elevator (dental or neurosurgical)search for term

An instrument used to lift a tooth or piece of bone. (Latin: e-levo, to lift up)

Elixirsearch for term

A (sometimes magical) sweetened liquid containing alcohol and another substance used used as a medication.

Embrocationsearch for term

Liniment. (Greek: embroche lotion, from en + brechein to wet)

Emollientsearch for term

A substance that makes something soft or supple. (Latin: emolliens to soften)

Emphraxissearch for term


Errhinesearch for term

Medications used to promote sneezing or a nasal discharge (Greek: en + rhin, in nose)

Erysipelassearch for term

Skin infection with group A streptococcus, see St. Anthony's Fire.

Etticksearch for term

Hectic fever.

Etuisearch for term

A small pocket case for instruments. (French: estuier, to preserve)

Evilsearch for term


Exanthemsearch for term

A skin rash accompanying any eruptive disease or fever.

Falling of the Bowelssearch for term

Bowels protruding from the anus generally caused by a debility of the part, piles, drastic purgatives, or violent straining at stool.

Falling Sicknessearch for term


Famine Feversearch for term

Typhus or any acute epidemic contagious fever.

Fecessearch for term

(Synonym) BM, bowel movement, crap, dropping, dung, excreta, faeces, poop, shit, stool, turd

Feeblenesssearch for term

Any disability.

Festersearch for term

Infection that generates purulent matter and worsens. (Latin: from fistula, pipe)

Fire Shipsearch for term

A wench who has the venereal disease.

First Diseasesearch for term


Fitsearch for term

A seizure or convulsion usually caused by epilepsy.

Fleamsearch for term

A sharp lancet for bloodletting (Greek: phleb, vein + tomon, to cut)

Floating Kidneysearch for term

Movable downwardly displaced kidney felt to be the cause of a number of internal unrelated conditions.

Floodingsearch for term

Uterine hemorrhage in puerperal fever or from another condition.

Floxsearch for term

An old English name for hemorrhagic smallpox.

Fluxsearch for term

Excessive discharge of any fluid (blood, stool, mucous), usually a term for diarrhea or dysentery.

Forceps (bullet, dental, lithotomy, obstetric)search for term

An instrument to grasp a structure for compression or traction. (Latin: formus, hot + ceps, to take)

Foul Diseasesearch for term


Fourteen Day Feversearch for term

Epidemic Typhus.

French Poxsearch for term

See Great Pox.

Frog in Your Throatsearch for term

Secretions of frogs were used to treat sore throats and it was also believed that by placing a live frog in the sufferer's mouth the frog would inhale the disease.

Funny Bonesearch for term

A place at the back of the elbow (humerus bone) where the ulnar nerve is close to the surface so that when it is hit a tingling sensation is felt.

Furunclesearch for term


Gangrenesearch for term

A foul smelling and blackened condition of limbs caused by infection requiring amputation.

Gaol Feversearch for term

Epidemic typhus.

Gatheringsearch for term

A collection of pus.

Gibbussearch for term

Kyphosis or deformity of spine.

Ginsengsearch for term

A plant tuber with presumed medicinal properties including as a stimulant and an aphrodisiac. (Chinese: man, herb)

Giraffesearch for term

Dengue Fever.

Gissasearch for term

Cynanche Parotidea.

Give your Eyetoothsearch for term

In early days the canine or eyetooth was removed as a punishment so those who considered breaking the law were forced to weigh whether or not they would give their eyetooth for the object of their desire. Extraction of this particular tooth carried increased risk since a resultant cavernous sinus infection could extend directly into the orbit.

Gleetsearch for term

Chronic inflammation accompanied by an abnormal discharge.

God Bless Yousearch for term

The plague comes in two forms, bubonic and pneumonic. The most common was the first (spread by rat fleas) but the most deadly was the latter (by droplet spread). Pneumonic plague had a 100% mortality and the first sign was to sneeze. During a sixth century outbreak Pope Gregory the Great began the custom of saying "God Bless You" to those who sneezed so that they might ultimately go to heaven.

Gonagrasearch for term

Gout or rheumatism of the knees.

Gorgetsearch for term

A director or guide with a wide groove used in lithotomy. (Middle English: gorge, throat)

Goutsearch for term

Excess uric acid crystals in a joint (usually the foot) causing great pain.

Gravelsearch for term

Small kidney stones expelled in the urine.

Graveyard Shiftsearch for term

In old England one out of twenty five coffins had scratch marks on the inside making it clear that people had been buried alive. As a precaution family members would tie a string to the wrist of the departed and attach it to a bell above ground. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be “saved by the bell."

Great Poxsearch for term

Syphilis (though confused with gonorrhea) and to be distinguished from the Smallpox.

Green Sicknesssearch for term

The disease of maids occasioned by celibacy. Love melancholy, also iron deficiency anemia. (see chlorosis).

Griefsearch for term

Early term meaning depression often causing a physical illness along with a mental disorder.

Gripessearch for term


Grippe (or La Grippe)search for term


Gullionsearch for term


Gummasearch for term

A small granuloma characteristic of advanced syphilis.

Hair of the Dogsearch for term

This is part of a longer expression "the hair of the dog that bit you." The ancient belief was that treatment with the hair of a dog that bites someone could be used as a curative for the toxins of the bite. By extension an antidote against the hangover that follows excess alcohol intake should be another drink or two.

Headmouldshotsearch for term

When sutures of the brain overlapped in infants caused by a difficult delivery or by Rickets.

Hectic Feversearch for term

Recurring fever with chills and sweating.

Hemiplegysearch for term

Paralysis of one side of the body as from a stroke.

Hempen Feversearch for term

To be hanged or to have been stabbed with a Bridport dagger since Bridport was a place famous for manufacturing hemp into cords.

Hey’s Sawsearch for term

Neurosurgical instrument for removal of a section of the skull (by Dr. William Hey).

Hip Goutsearch for term


Holding a Wakesearch for term

The custom of drinking ale or whiskey in lead cups would sometimes knock out drinkers for several days. They would be laid out on the kitchen table in preparation for burial while the family would gather around eating and drinking to see if individuals would wake up -- and so the custom of "holding a wake."

Homeopathysearch for term

Alternative medicine by Samuel Hahnemann with the belief that small substances that cause symptoms of disease in the healthy cure those diseases (similia similibus curentur).

Hornpoxsearch for term

Varicella (Chicken Pox).

Horrorssearch for term

Delirium tremens from alcohol withdrawal.

Horseshoeheadsearch for term

Inflammation of the brain.

Hospital Feversearch for term


House Diseasesearch for term

Consumption (or Tuberculosis).

Humid Tettersearch for term


Humour (or Humor)search for term

Any fluid substance in the body including blood, bile, phlegm, chyle, or lymph.

Hydrophobiasearch for term


Hydropssearch for term

Dropsy or an accumulation of water in a cavity.

Hysteric Paroxysmsearch for term

Orgasm. (Greek: hysyerikos, suffering in the womb)

Ichorsearch for term

Thin bad matter.

Ictalsearch for term

Relating to or caused by a stroke or seizure.

Icterussearch for term


Ignis Infernalissearch for term

"Hell's Fire" or Erysipelas.

Iliac Passionsearch for term

Violent abdominal pain with vomiting of fecal matter.

Imposthumesearch for term

A collection of purulent matter in an abscess or cyst. (Greek: apostema separation of pus into an abscess)

In the Pinksearch for term

Meaning healthy. Early English fox hunters wore scarlet colored jackets called pinks. If you are wearing your pink, you were ready to go hunting.

Infantile Paralysissearch for term


Inflammationsearch for term

A general term for any morbid condition of any part of the body named after the tissue involved: for example inflammation of the kidney (nephritis), lung (pneumonia), stomach (gastritis), throat (tonsillitis), etc.

Ivorinesearch for term

A trademark substance resembling ivory.

Jacksonian Marchsearch for term

The spread of abnormal electrical activity from one area of the cerebral cortex to adjacent areas.

Jail Feversearch for term


Jaundice (or Jaunders)search for term

Yellowness of the skin usually caused either by gall bladder or liver disease.

June Weddingssearch for term

In medieval times most marriages took place in June because most took their yearly baths in May. Since brides were starting to smell by June they carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor, a custom we continue today.

Jungle Rotsearch for term

Any skin disorder induced by a tropical climate.

Kaffir Milk Poxsearch for term

Variola Minor (smallpox).

Kakkesearch for term


Keep an Eye Outsearch for term

Sailors used single tubed telescopes to look for danger and other ships. Thus the term "to keep an eye out."

Keep Your Eyes Peeledsearch for term

In the 17th century "pill" (often spelled "peel") meant to cheat and later "to remove." In mid 19th century US the term meant to remove a covering of the eye so perhaps one could see better.

Kilesearch for term


King's Evilsearch for term

Tuberculosis of the neck and lymph glands.

Kinksearch for term

A fit of coughing.

Kinkcough (or Kinkhaust)search for term

Pertussis (whooping cough).

Ladendosearch for term


Lancet (gum, spring, thumb)search for term

A surgical knife with a short, wide, two-edged blade. (French: lancette)

Laudable Pussearch for term

An term used when suppuration or drainage occurred at a wound site thought incorrectly to be a good sign that the unhealthy humours were being discharged by the patient (rather than that the infection was getting worse).

Laudanumsearch for term

Tincture (with alcohol) of opium.

Laxsearch for term

A looseness or diarrhea.

Lenticularsearch for term

Neurosurgical instrument used to elevate fragments of skull (L. lenticula, a lentil).

Leontiasissearch for term

Ridges and furrows on the forehead and cheeks of patients with advanced lepromatous leprosy giving a lion-like appearance.

Let Bloodsearch for term

To phlebotomize or bleed.

Lily Liveredsearch for term

In ancient Greece the red liver of a sacrificed animal before a battle was regarded as a good omen. On the other hand if the liver was pale then the outlook for the battle was grim. The liver of a coward was thought to be pale or "lily livered."

Limosissearch for term

An abnormal appetite during pregnancy as in chalk-eating, fondness for slate pencils, or other.

Lithoclast (lithotrite)search for term

An instrument used to crush a urinary stone. (Greek: lithos, stone + klastos, broken or Latin: tritus, to rub)

Lithotomysearch for term

Cutting for the stone.

Liver Spotssearch for term

Light brown, red or black spots on sun (ultraviolet radiation) exposed skin formerly and incorrectly thought to be secondary to liver disease.

Livergrownsearch for term

Having an enlarged liver.

Lockjawsearch for term


Long in the Toothsearch for term

Meaning to get older. Horses' gums recede with time making their teeth look longer and additionally a groove in the upper incisor elongates as the horse gets older.

Loosenesssearch for term


Loosing or Saving Facesearch for term

18th century nobles rarely bathed and so used a lot of perfume. They wore a great deal of makeup and the layers built up. Sitting too close to the heat of the fireplace could cause the makeup to melt requiring a servant to move the screen in front of the fireplace to block the heat and thus prevent their masters from "losing face."

Luessearch for term


Lumbagosearch for term

A rheumatic pain in the small of the back.

Lung Feversearch for term


Lung Sicknesssearch for term


Luxationsearch for term

Displacement or misalignment of a joint or organ.

Lying Insearch for term

The time of delivery.

Maculated Feversearch for term


Mad as a Hattersearch for term

In the past many hats were made using mercurous nitrate, a substance toxic to the central nervous system. The symptoms exhibited by hat makers included a tremor along with altered behavior leading many to conclude that these individuals were "mad." This disease was famously suffered by The Mad Hatter in Lewis Caroll's "Alice in Wonderland."

Make No Bones About Itsearch for term

This is a reference to the unwelcomed discovery of bones in your soup in 15th century England. There would be no objection should you not find bones in your meal so for anything you accepted you made no bones about.

Mandrakesearch for term

A plant of the nightshade family that resembles the human form with presumed magical properties used in the past to promote conception and as a cathartic and analgesic. This substance has hallucinogenic properties and is the substance placed in witches' brews to cause altered mental states. (middle English mandragora)

Maniasearch for term


Marasmussearch for term

Wasting, malnutrition.

Marsh Feversearch for term

Malarial fever.

Megrimsearch for term

Migraine headache.

Melancholysearch for term

An excess of black bile characterized by irascibility or depression. (Greek: melan + chole bile)

Membranous Croupsearch for term


Meteorismsearch for term

Distension of the abdomen from wind in the bowels that takes place in acute diseases suddenly and unexpectedly as does the appearance of a meteor in the heavens.

Metritissearch for term

Inflammation of the uterus.

Mianeh Feversearch for term

A form of Middle Eastern relapsing fever.

Miasmasearch for term

The belief that diseases were generated by “bad air” formed from rotting food, waste, and feces found in overcrowded inner city environments.

Milk Legsearch for term

Postpartum thrombophlebitis.

Misiresearch for term

A disorder of the liver with tumor, inflammation, pungent pain, and blackness of the tongue.

Morphewsearch for term

Scurvy blisters of the body.

Morsalsearch for term


Mortificationsearch for term


Mountebanksearch for term

A quack physician meaning "one who stood on a bench."

Mulligrubssearch for term

Colic or a griping of the intestines.

Mursearch for term


Murrainsearch for term


Naples Diseasesearch for term


Negro Consumptionsearch for term

Before the Civil War tuberculosis in African Americans was believed to be caused by dirt eating though obviously that was disproven.

Nettlespringesearch for term


Noli Me Tangeresearch for term

Meaning "touch me not." A name given to lupus because of its being aggravated by most kinds of treatment.

Nomasearch for term

A severe often gangrenous inflammation of the mouth or genitals occurring usually after an infectious disease in malnourished children.

Nostromsearch for term

A medication sold with false or exaggerated claims and little or no effectiveness.

Not a Pot to Piss In (see Piss Poor)search for term

In the 16th century families urinated in a pot and sold skins placed there to a tannery since the urea broke down to ammonia which softened and tanned the skins. You were really poor if you couldn't even afford to buy the pot.

Numpostsearch for term


Ochlotic Feversearch for term


Oculus Dextersearch for term

OD refers to the right eye."Dexter" is Latin for right and is the side of honor so the bearers coat of arms in early shields was on the right. The eagle in the Great Seal of the United States carries the olive branch in his right talon meaning it is of more importance (with arrows in the left).

Oculus Sinistersearch for term

OS refers to the left eye. In Latin "sinister" refers to the left, evil or wrong side and is the derivation for the same word today. Left handedness has always carried with it a negative stigma.

Ophthalmoscopesearch for term

A device for studying the interior of the eye through the pupil. (Greek: ophthalmos relationship to the eye + skopeo, to examine)

Otorrhoeasearch for term

Drainage from the ear.

Otoscopesearch for term

An instrument for examining the eardrum. (Greek: ous, ear + skopea, to view)

Ozenasearch for term

A foul ulcer in the inside of the nostrils.

Ozone Generatorsearch for term

A form of oxygen (O3) that is produced by a static charge and was thought to have health benefits. (Greek: ozein, to smell)

Painter's Colicsearch for term

Lead poisoning.

Palsysearch for term

Loss of sense or motion of a part of the body.

Paludal Feversearch for term


Papboatsearch for term

A boat-shaped dish used to hold pap (a soft food for infants). (Latin: pappa, food)

Paristhmitissearch for term

Quinsy or infection of the throat sometimes leading to abscess.

Paroxysmsearch for term

(see hysteric paroxysm).

Patent Medicinesearch for term

A medication sold without a prescription and promoted by a specific maker.

Percussorsearch for term

A small hammer used to tap part of the body in order to determine density. (Latin: percussio, to beat)

Perforatorsearch for term

An obstetric instrument for making a bony opening through the cranium in abortion (Latin: perforare, to bore through)

Perlèchesearch for term

A contagious disease of the mouth in children at the angles of the mouth.

Pessarysearch for term

An appliance introduced into the vagina to support the uterus. (Latin: pessarium, from Greek: pessos, an oval stone used in certain games)

Pestsearch for term


Phillipine Itch search for term


Phlegmasiasearch for term


Phrenologysearch for term

The appearance of the skull presumably reflecting enlargements of parts of the brain and so an individual's character – according to FJ Gall. (Latin: phren, mind)

Phthiriasissearch for term

Pubic lice.

Phthisissearch for term


Phthisuriasearch for term


Physicsearch for term

Medicine or a purgative.

Physiognomysearch for term

The study of personality by appearance. (Greek: physi, nature + gnomon, interpreter)

Pica search for term

The pathological habit of eating many different objects including metal, glass, hair, and earth (geophagia). Some associate this disorder with an iron deficiency and it may be seen in pregnancy and as a cultural habit in societies across the world.

Pick's Diseasesearch for term

Slowly progressive dementia.

Pilessearch for term


Pimginetssearch for term


Pink Diseasesearch for term

Mercury poisoning in children.

Pinswealsearch for term


Pipsearch for term


Piss Poorsearch for term

Urine used to be employed in tanning animal skins. Families all urinated in a pot and then sold the skins placed there to a tannery; you were "piss poor" if you had to do this to survive. (See "not a pot to piss in.")

Plague of Venussearch for term


Planet Strucksearch for term


Pleximetersearch for term

An oblong plate placed on the body and struck with a percussor. (Greek: plesso, to strike, + metron, measure)

Podagrasearch for term


Pott's Diseasesearch for term

Infection of the vertebrae from tuberculosis resulting in marked curvature of the spine (described by Percival Pott).

Potter's Asthmasearch for term

Lung inflammation in potters working in Staffordshire.

Poulticesearch for term

A moist, warm soft medication or herb made into a paste that is spread under a cloth that is placed over the skin of an infected or painful part of the body to draw out the disease. (Latin: pultes, porridge).

Poxsearch for term

Syphilis or gonorrhea (also Great Pox distinguished from the Smallpox: variola).

Probangsearch for term

A flexible rod with a soft tip to advance or retrieve an esophageal foreign body (from provang, by inventor Walter Rumsey).

Puerperal Feversearch for term

Maternal (often fatal) sepsis secondary to poor sterile technique at delivery. See Childbed Fever.

Purgativesearch for term

A laxative. (Latin: purgativus, purge)

Purples (Purpura)search for term

A disease in which there are small distinct purple specks and patches.

Putrid Feversearch for term


Quartan Feversearch for term

Intermittent fever with the paroxysms recurring every fourth day.

Quincesearch for term


Quinsysearch for term

Tonsillitis which sometimes progressed to a abscess of the throat.

Quotidian Feversearch for term

Intermittent fever which recurs every day.

Radionicssearch for term

Alternative medicine dedicated to treating diseases by using various radio waves to neutralize the different sine waves produced by each disease.

Ramollissementsearch for term

Premature softening of an organ.

Rattlesearch for term

A term for the sound in the throat of dying persons arising from the accumulation of mucous.

Red Herring (in a diagnosis)search for term

Smoked (or red) herrings in 19th century England had a very strong scent, strong enough to mask other smells. A red herring pulled across the trail could divert hounds pursuing a fox so the phrase came to mean any false trail.

Red Measlessearch for term


Red Tongue Feversearch for term


Reel for term


Remitting Feversearch for term


Restorativessearch for term

Medications such as Solomon’s Balm of Gilead and Brodum’s Cordial which were purported to return to the recipient all those powers lost by masturbation.

Revulsionsearch for term

The drawing of disease or congestion from one part of the body to another by counterirritation.

Rhysissearch for term


Ricketssearch for term

Vitamin D deficiency resulting in weakened bones and subsequent bow-legged individuals.

Risingsearch for term

Abscess or an inflammatory swelling; also for a subjective sensation of something moving from the periphery toward the brain.

Rising of the Lightssearch for term

"Lights" as a early term for lungs so used to describe pleurisy and croup among other conditions, usually in children.

Risus Sardonicussearch for term

This is the grin and raised eyebrow appearance secondary to the spasm of facial muscles characteristic of tetanus (along with strychnine poisoning and Wilson's disease). The term is derived from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.

Rocks in Your Headsearch for term

An early practice by quack doctors was to go from town to town curing the insane by palming a rock and pretending to remove "the rock of insanity" from those afflicted. Before it was realized that there was no improvement the doctor was on to the next town. That's why we claim that an individual exhibiting bizarre behavior has rocks in his head.

Rodent Ulcersearch for term

A slowly enlarging ulcerated basal cell carcinoma, usually on the face.

Roman Feversearch for term

Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

Rose Catarrhsearch for term

Hay Fever.

Rose Spotssearch for term

Characteristic exanthema of typhoid fever: 10-20 small pink papules on the lower trunk lasting a few days and leaving hyperpigmentation.

Rosy Dropsearch for term


Running Tettersearch for term


Salt Rheumsearch for term

Inflammatory disease with redness, itching, and the discharge of a watery exudation which dries up leaving crusts called tetter or milk crust.

Saniessearch for term

A green fetid fluid consisting of pus discharged from a wound, ulcer, or fistula.

Sapraemiasearch for term

Blood poisoning caused by putrefactive bacteria.

Sarsaparillasearch for term

A nonalcoholic drink with plants of the genus Smilax of the lily family added used to treat skin and blood diseases. (Spanish: zarzaparrilla)

Saved by the Bellsearch for term

(see graveyard shift).

Scald Headsearch for term

Ringworm or porrigo of the scalp.

Scalpelsearch for term

A knife used in surgical dissection. (Latin: scalprum, a knife)

Scarificatorsearch for term

An instrument for making multiple superficial incisions in the skin for wet cupping. (Latin: scarifico, to scratch)

Scarlet Feversearch for term

An acute disease of childhood caused by Group A streptococcus characterized by a bright scarlet-colored eruption over the entire body.

Scirrhussearch for term

A dense cancerous growth arising from connective tissue.

Scittasearch for term

Epidemic dysentery (10th century).

Scorbutus (see Scurvy)search for term

Characterized by livid spots on the skin, offensive breath, spongy gums, with occasional hemorrhage from the mouth and nostrils, swelling of the legs, etc. (vitamin C deficiency).

Screwssearch for term


Scrofula (see Struma and King's Evil)search for term

Tuberculosis affecting the lymph nodes of the neck most common in children.

Scrumpoxsearch for term

Impetigo contagiosa among British children.

Scurfsearch for term


Scurvysearch for term

Lack of vitamin C was characterized by bleeding gums and often found in seafarers who lacked fruit in their diet. Sailors in the Royal Navy prevented this disease by bringing lemons on board and so were called "limeys."

Second Diseasesearch for term

Scarlet Fever.

Serpigosearch for term

Ringworm or tetter.

Shagreensearch for term

A dyed, untanned leather or sharkskin used for etuis or lancet cases.

Shaking Palseysearch for term

A degenerative disorder of the central nervous system characterized by tremor and impaired muscular coordination; Parkinson's Disease.

Sharp Feversearch for term

Epidemic Typhus.

Shinglessearch for term

Herpes Zoster of the skin.

Ship Feversearch for term


Simplessearch for term

Medications made from a single herb.

Siriasissearch for term


Slaveringsearch for term

Involuntary flow of saliva, drooling, slobbering, driveling, and (Old English) Pirtling.

Snail Feversearch for term


Snurlesearch for term


Soporificsearch for term

A medication that induces sleep. (Latin: somnus for sleep)

Soundsearch for term

An elongated, cylindrical instrument, used for exploring, dilating, or detecting a foreign body in a cavity or canal (usually urethra, or esophagus).

Speculumsearch for term

An instrument for opening a canal or cavity for inspection. (Latin: a mirror, from specio, to look at)

Sphacelussearch for term

Gangrene of an extremity.

Spotted Feversearch for term

A febrile disease typically characterized by a skin eruption such as typhus, meningitis, and tick-borne rickettsiae.

St John's Evilsearch for term


St. Andrew's Diseasesearch for term


St. Anthony's Firesearch for term

Ergotism was a skin disorder produced by the Claviceps purpurea fungus which infects rye and other cereals. Also a skin infection with group A streptococcus, see erysipelas.

St. Sement's Diseasesearch for term


St. Vitas Dancesearch for term

Uncoordinated jerking movements characteristic of Sydenham's Chorea.

Sternutatorysearch for term

Medications applied to the nose to induce sneezing. (Latin: sternutatorius or sneezing)

Stonesearch for term

Usually gall-stone but sometimes in the kidneys.

Strangerysearch for term

A rupture.

Stranguarysearch for term

Restricted or painful urination.

Strumasearch for term

Goiter or enlargement of the thyroid gland often secondary to iodine deficiency in the diet.

Stypticsearch for term

A device or instrument to stop bleeding. (Latin: stypticus, to contract)

Suppuratesearch for term

To form or discharge pus. (Latin: suppurare sub + pus)

Synochussearch for term

Continuous fever.

Tabessearch for term

A wasting of the body characterized by emaciation and weakness with fever.

Tabes Dorsalessearch for term

Tertiary syphilis resulting in a hardening of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord with shooting pains, wasting, loss of muscular coordination, and disturbances of sensation and digestion.

Tarantismsearch for term

St. Vitus' Dance.

Tenaculumsearch for term

A hooked instrument used to hold a blood vessel that is to be tied off. (Latin: teneo, to hold)

Tettersearch for term

Vesicular skin diseases including ringworm, eczema, psoriasis, or herpes.

The Royal Diseasesearch for term

Morbus Regius or jaundice which brings with it the color of gold.

Throwing Out the Baby with the Bath Watersearch for term

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house bathed first in the clean water followed by other men, then the women, the children, and finally all the babies. By then the water was so dirty that you didn't want to accidentally throw out the baby with the bath water.

Thrushsearch for term

Infection of the mouth and throat often caused by a fungus.

Tick Feversearch for term

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Tincturesearch for term

An alcoholic extract of a plant or animal often used as a medication, either for topical or oral use.

Tissicksearch for term


Tonicsearch for term

A medication that promotes vigor and strength. (Greek: tonos tension)

Toohutiasearch for term

Dengue Fever.

Tortoise Shellsearch for term

Horny (or artificial) plate from a turtle that was used in 19th century instruments.

Trench Feversearch for term

Rickettsia Quintana.

Trephinesearch for term

A “T” shaped instrument used for removing a disk of bone, usually from the skull, also a verb. (Latin: tres fines, three ends)

Trismus (also Lockjaw)search for term

Tonic spasm of the muscles of the jaw from disease of the motor branch of the trigeminal nerve associated with tetanus.

Trocarsearch for term

A sharp instrument with a three cornered tip that fits into a cannula, used to remove fluid from a cavity. (French: trocart, from trois, three, + carre, side of a sword blade)

Tumidsearch for term

Swollen, distended body part.

Tympanysearch for term

Gas or air collection causing swelling.

Tyriasissearch for term

A species of Leprosy in which the skin may be easily withdrawn from the flesh.

Under the Weathersearch for term

Sailors who became seasick by rough seas and the rocking motion of the ship were sent below deck where the sway of the boat was not as exaggerated and where they were further away from the weather.

Vapourssearch for term

Typhoid Fever, also hypochondriasis or hysteria.

Varixsearch for term

A dilated vein, artery, or lymph vessel.

Vectissearch for term

A single bladed curved instrument used to aid in delivery. (Latin: a lever or bar)

Venesectionsearch for term

Therapeutic bloodletting. (Latin: vena, vein + sectio, a cutting).

Visited Housesearch for term

A house whose inhabitants had the plague.

Walesearch for term

A raised mark on the skin.

Warningssearch for term

The aura of epilepsy.

Wasting Diseasesearch for term

Pulmonary tuberculosis.

Waterjugs (or Waterpox)search for term

Varicalla (chickenpox).

Wazoosearch for term

Meaning the anus with the expression "up the" or "out the" wazoo meaning an excess of anything. The term seems to have originated in the United States in the early 1960's but unfortunately the derivation is unknown.

Wearingsearch for term

Consumption or tuberculosis.

Weltsearch for term

A raised mark on the skin.

Wensearch for term

A harmless cyst usually on the scalp or face containing the fatty secretion of a sebaceous gland.

Whealsearch for term

A small swelling on the skin as from an insect bite that usually itches or burns.

White Death (or Plague)search for term

Pulmonary tuberculosis.

White Throatsearch for term


Whitlowsearch for term

A herpes viral infection resulting in a painful blister on one of the digits.

Wool Sorters' Diseasesearch for term


Worm for term

Cause of death in children when worms were flound in stools.

Zonasearch for term

Shingles or herpes zoster.

__clastsearch for term

Broken. (Greek: klastos)

__itissearch for term


__otomysearch for term

To cut (Greek: tomos, cutting) – craniotomy (Greek: kranion, skull), lithotomy (Greek: lithos, stone)

__rrheasearch for term

Flowing of fluids as in "diarrhea" or "amenorrhea."

__scopesearch for term

To examine, G. skopeo.

__tomesearch for term

Cutting instrument (Greek: tomos, cutting), rachitome (Greek: rachis, spine), tonsillotome (Latin: tonsilla), urethretome (Greek: ourethra)

__tritesearch for term

To rub L. Tritus, to rub.