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July 14, 1888


JAMA. 1888;XI(2):61. doi:10.1001/jama.1888.02400540025007

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The indiscriminate use of these words for meteorism or flatulent distension of the intestines is exceedingly common—so common, in fact, that if usage can justify a continuation and sanction of error in the use of words, it may be assumed that it is proper to commit this error. But there is a limit to the justification of error by usage, and the error mentioned is beyond that limit. Tympanites cannot mean inflammation of the lining membrane of the middle ear; tympanitis can mean nothing else. The termination itis of the latter word shows that it means an inflammation. Tympanites is a Latin derivative directly from the Greek, and of the fifth declension. Tympanitis is derived from the Greek root τ[unk]μπαν a drum, to which is suffixed itis, signifying that a drum (the tympanum) is inflamed. Tympanites signifies a condition of the intestines giving them a drum-like tension and sound. Lexicographers,

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