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Books, Journals, New Media
June 23/30, 2004

Medical Language

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;291(24):3015-3016. doi:10.1001/jama.291.24.3015-b

The appearance of a new edition of a reference book usually implies the exhaustion of the previous edition, a rapidly evolving field, or an energetic author who still has a great deal more to say. Apparently all three of those factors underlie the release of the second edition of this work so soon after the first one in 1997.

It has been justly observed that the past history of any word—whether that word pertains to technical terminology, political jargon, or junior-high slang—is at once its most fascinating and its least useful feature. In the days of Samuel Johnson and Noah Webster, when scholarly dictionaries were a novelty, the etymology of each word was printed immediately after its pronunciation. Nowadays it is more likely to appear at the end of an entry if it is not omitted altogether.

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