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May 28, 1960


JAMA. 1960;173(4):377. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020220051014

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Innumerable names are derived from resemblance to buildings, animals and plants or their parts, to musical instruments, articles of adornment, agricultural implements, tools and weapons....

In order to illustrate the derivation of names from surrounding objects we may reflect upon domestic life in Graeco-Roman times. An open space for assembly or marketing was called agora (hence agoraphobia, fear of open spaces). An enclosed space, if large, was called claustrum (claustrophobia, fear of being shut in), and, if small, areola, (areolar tissue, i. e. tissue of small spaces). In a house the vestibulum led into the atrium (to us synonymous with auricle). This may have been so-called because it had a fire in the middle of the room and therefore had blackened walls (ater, black). An inner room or bedroom in Greece was called thalamos, a term applied by Galen to the inner chambers of the brain.—Roberts, F., Medical Terms: Their

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