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Article
January 22, 1898

THE ORIENTAL EUNUCHS.

Author Affiliations

PROFESSOR OF CLINICAL SURGERY IN THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT OF THE NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY. CHICAGO, ILL.

JAMA. 1898;XXX(4):173-177. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.72440560001001

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Abstract

The word eunuch is Greek and derived from [unk] and [unk], literally having charge of the bedchamber, i. e., a chamberlain. In Hebrew it was Saris, meaning mutilated; probably because the first royal chamberlains were castrated men. However, men officially called eunuchs soon began to be employed in all sorts of offices, though many of them were really not such in the surgical sense, and the word became merely equivalent to the term officer. A figure of speech also crept into use in which certain persons for religious reasons are said to have "eunuchized" themselves, who, in the opinion of commentators, underwent no mutilation, but merely lived in total celibacy, like eunuchs, as in the third class mentioned in Matthew, 19, 12. This habit of broadening the definition of words at the expense of their precision is a linguistic trait of oriental countries. The people were very fond of this

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