It’s wrong of me to giggle, I know, but I love the directness of the nomenclature of animal diseases: Blue Tongue, Foot and Mouth, Mad Cow, the Staggers, Licky End. Actually the last one was made up by Terry Pratchett, but it is all too plausible isn’t it?
Human diseases used to have accessible names too: St Vitus’ dance, St Anthony’s fire, quinsy, dropsy, Bells palsy, tennis elbow, housemaid’s knee, sleeping sickness, shaking sickness, elephantiasis, croup, scurvy, rickets, whooping cough, cow pox, (any kind of pox, really), the Black Death. Those were names to conjour with.
These days we just have a bunch of bloody acronyms: SARS, AIDS, ADHD, HIV, SIDS.
I was looking for a picture of a medieval doctor to illustrate this post, when I found this painting by John Woodwark; her bottom is just too splendid for me not to share the image with you here.
POP QUIZ – which two words have very similar meanings, one is a six letter word of one syllable the other is a four letter word of two syllables, and the last four letters of the six letter word are the the whole of the four letter word?