a waste of muscular flesh
July 20, 2015 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Worm fever, headmouldshot, quinsy, Derbyshire neck, and other medical terms of the 18th and 19th centuries.
posted by theodolite (31 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I guess the "Four Humors" were out of fashion by this time.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:19 PM on July 20, 2015

You know the "what's your stripper name" thing where you use your pet's name and the street you grew up on? Pretty sure you can do the same thing here.
Old-Timey WebMD Diagnosis Tool

1. Look around the room and name the first thing you see.
2. What part of your body hurts?

Your malady is: MILK LEG
I expect to see this quiz tomorrow morning on buzzfeed.
posted by phunniemee at 7:47 PM on July 20, 2015 [14 favorites]

PS3 Controller Right Under My Ribcage Near The Front
posted by griphus at 7:50 PM on July 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

The jimmy legs?
posted by indubitable at 7:52 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

PS3 Controller Right Under My Ribcage Near The Front

Actually, if it's a sharp pain and it's recurring, it might be Texidor's Twinge.
posted by phunniemee at 7:54 PM on July 20, 2015

High school English Lit probably would have made a bit more sense knowing what things like "dropsy" and "consumption" were.
posted by indubitable at 7:59 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Looked for scrofula, was not disappointed. Non-medical people might be surprised at how many of these are still used, although a lot of æ's are now just e, at least on my side of the Atlantic. And a few, like "bad blood" struck me as the type of term used more by laypeople than medical professionals. All in all, pretty interesting.
posted by TedW at 8:24 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, I love this stuff! Great post - thanks!
posted by mochapickle at 8:31 PM on July 20, 2015

I have often thought that "poll evil" (an old veterinary term) had new applications today.
posted by galadriel at 8:33 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

While probably better for the patient and interdepartmental communication, I always think of things like chorea as St. Vitus' Dance.

It's wonderful to have that clear communication, but if it's not what you were trained in - in the first place - you'll just have to clarify what you mean in the second place.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 8:59 PM on July 20, 2015

Sheds new light on that "Bad Blood" song.

What is Taylor Swift trying to tell us?
posted by clvrmnky at 9:01 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

And so many different fevers! Syphilises? Fevers. Herpes? Fever. Cancers? Probably a vigorous fever. Gonhorrhea? You got the jake dong, lad.
posted by boo_radley at 9:49 PM on July 20, 2015

In Our Band Could Be Yor Life, there's a description of a zine the Butthole Surfers put together which was gruesome medical illustrations paired with utterly nonsensical descriptions. The only one I can remember is "taco leg" but holy hell is that funny.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:51 PM on July 20, 2015

Doing genealogy, you come across lots of these and it's interesting researching them. I have two ancestors whose cause of death was 'General Paralysis of Insane', which apparently means the later stages of syphilis; they both died in their early 40s. One was the father-in-law of the other. Also one 'Exhaustion of Mania with Epilepsy' , one 'Paralysis', a 'Colonial Fever', an 'Asthenia' which is apparently just general debility, and one 'Obstruction of Bowels' who was only 36 when she died. And loads of deaths from pneumonia or consumption.
posted by andraste at 10:19 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

And my absolute favourite which does't apply to any of my ancestors but appears in lots of old Australian newspapers; 'Visitation of God'.
posted by andraste at 10:20 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Metafilter: see syphilis
posted by dng at 2:23 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

A lot of these reflect a pretty sophisticated understanding of medical science and many of these terms are still in use today and mean the same thing.
posted by three blind mice at 2:53 AM on July 21, 2015

Yes, from my point of view it would have been good to have it made clear which of these are no longer current, and what, if anything, is the modern equivalent. But I suppose this is probably a glossary for readers who don't really care about that so long as they understand what's meant.
posted by Segundus at 4:22 AM on July 21, 2015

Really interesting and yes, many terms are still used in medicine today. When I was in school I always wondered what "ague" was that people were always suffering from in old stories. Now I know. Thanks!
posted by mermayd at 4:33 AM on July 21, 2015

I grew up in Derbyshire and, although the condition has now been eradicated, goitre is still called 'Derbyshire Neck' in that part of the world.
posted by essexjan at 4:44 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

'Inanition' essentially meant 'died of poverty' as I understand it.
posted by Segundus at 4:56 AM on July 21, 2015

Metafilter: see syphilis

MetaFilter: General Paralysis of Insane
posted by briank at 5:43 AM on July 21, 2015

Well, if I was trying to find a name for a steampunk death metal band, I'd be all set!
posted by picea at 6:40 AM on July 21, 2015

Derbyshire neck. Yep. Worst case I've seen.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:40 AM on July 21, 2015

Why do the Spanish get blamed whenever somebody gets sick?
posted by Naberius at 6:41 AM on July 21, 2015

Not just the Spanish. The English are very adept at blaming the French, the Italians, and generally the entire Continent for their troubles. Sometimes a backhanded swipe at The Colonies for good measure.

Not much has changed.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:50 AM on July 21, 2015

I'm definitely going to have to convert these to bizarre sexual practices and submit them to Urban Dictionary.
posted by MikeMc at 8:20 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Includes neither the marthambles nor the strong fives. I have my doubts about this.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 11:39 AM on July 21, 2015

I still have a hard time really understanding that "consumption" is TB. Like if you said "a consumptive ailment" to me I'd assume you meant flesh-eating bacteria, not coughing up a lung.

And yeah, to me "dropsy" should be the most adorable disease ever and I am not looking it up go away! Burpsy, dropsy, and cottontail have adorable adventures!

I'd like to meet Beriberi. She sounds like a strong capable adventurer!

Also I was married before I learned that bacteriophages are viruses. I always assumed they were eukaryotic predators just based on the name!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 9:37 AM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh yes, speaking of beriberi, it's kind of astonishing just how many ailments of old turned out to be dietary deficiencies akin to scurvy. It's no wonder herbal remedies were so effective!

It's just a pity that it led to the current vitamin industry pushing their wonder-placebos now.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 9:38 AM on July 22, 2015

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