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May 20, 1961

Greek Yes!—Latin No!

Author Affiliations

Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1961;176(7):636. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040200072026

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Abstract

To the Editor:—  With reference to the J.A.M.A. (176:220 [Ap. 22] 1961) I would, with respect, draw to your attention the Editorial "Onychial Semantics." While it may be owned that, in the main, this commentary is laudable in its interpretation of the bastard Greek words descriptive of various disorders of the nails, at one point it shows forth a mighty weakness—its Achilles' heel—into which I cannot resist to fire the fatal bolt. May I quote: "... and onychophagia. With only a smattering of Latin, one might suspect that the latter term connotes biting of the nails."Really, Sir! May I point out that the Latin word for "a nail" is "unguis" (3rd declension masculine noun) and "to bite the nails" is "Rodere ungues." For example, the agonies of literary composition can be summed up in the following line: "ille in versu faciendo saepe caput scaberet vivas et roderet ungues."It would

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