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THE LANGUAGE OF MEDICINE

JAMA. 1934;103(11):842. doi:10.1001/jama.1934.02750370046016.
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The language of medicine is ever changing; thousands of words are added to its vocabulary each year. In a recent essay on "Language, Jargon, and Modern Medicine," Dr. Herbert R. Hurter1 pointed out that even the English terms for "doctor" are not the best possible words for the purpose. He believes that the French médecin and the German arzt are better than medical practitioner, physician, doctor of medicine, leech, or such horrible terms as mediciner, medico or medic. The most ancient English term was of course "leech," but it lost its value when it was applied much more frequently to the little blood-sucking animal and began, by slang connotation, to become associated with the money lenders. The word "surgeon" has been with the profession 600 years and has been spelled thirty different ways. Etymologically it means a handy man —a well chosen word. The word "physician," it seems, has

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