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April 14, 1993

Medical Terminologies: Classical Origins

Author Affiliations

Dayton, Ohio


by John Scarborough (Oklahoma Series in Classical Culture), 303pp, $34.95, ISBN 0-8061-2443-1, Norman, Okla, University of Oklahoma Press, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;269(14):1867. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500140121049

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The thesis of this book is that knowing the origins of scientific terms derived from Latin and Greek and being exposed repeatedly to their classical components in a variety of contexts will help students to grasp and retain their meanings. John Scarborough is a classicist and authority on ancient Greek and Roman medicine who has taught courses in medical terminology to students of the health professions. Writing in a brisk, trenchant, genial style, he manages to impart an enormous amount and variety of lore—anthropologic, historical, biologic, and technical as well as linguistic. The thread that holds the material together is the order of nature as perceived and interpreted by human beings through the taxonomy of living things and the nomenclature of anatomy.

Within this framework the author moves discursively by easy and logical transitions from one topic to another and gives the Greek or Latin origins of relevant terms as