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ACP Publishes 'Medical Meanings', Second Edition

PHILADELPHIA -- (October 21, 2003) "SARS," "nutriceuticals" and "hospitalist" are among 300 new entries in "Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins," second edition, published by the American College of Physicians (ACP), the national organization of doctors of internal medicine. "Medical Meanings," by William S. Haubrich, MD, explores the history of medical terms, tracing some back to classical roots and describing the recent coinage of others.

"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 thought, word, and deed." (JAMA)

Dr. Haubrich is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California at San Diego and senior consultant emeritus at the Scripps Clinic, La Jolla. He is the author or co-author of more than 130 original or review articles in major medical journals has served as consultant in the life sciences for the third edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

ACP (Internal Medicine. Doctors for Adults.) is the second-largest physician group in the United States. Membership includes internists, related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illnesses in adults. The ACP publishing program includes the journals Annals of Internal Medicine and ACP Journal Club, electronic products, and books for the medical community and general reader.

"Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins"
Second edition
267 pages, hardback; 2003
Price $33.00 (ACP members $30.00)
ISBN 1-930513-49-6

Order From:
ACP Customer Service, 800-523-1546, ext. 2600; or 215-351-2600. (ACP product number 3303000230).
Or visit www.acponline.org/catalog/books.
E-mail: custserv@mail.acponline.org

Lynda Teer, 215-351-2655 or 800-523-1546, ext. 2655
E-mail: lteer@acponline.org

Page posted: 10-24-03

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