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March 14, 1966

SUFFUSION OF SUFFIXES

JAMA. 1966;195(11):956. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100110124040

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Abstract

An of some future era who may wish t to date some charred remnant of mid-20th-century American lore, will have no need of carbon 14, radioactive tritium, or potassium-argon. He will find that he need only glance at the script and decipher suffixes. The latter, bearing clearly the imprint of their times, will guide his orientation.

Take for one the suffix "-oid." Although encountered occasionally in the old and familiar "rheumatoid," "lymphoid," and "adenoid" as far back as the 19th century, it did not come into its own until the middle of the 20th, when "leukemoid," "anginoid," "epileptoid," and the grotesque proper-name-appended "cushingoid," and "pagetoid," became household medical words.

Another signpost is the suffix "-opathy." Unmistakably mid-20th century, it attaches with graceful ease to a variety of medical terms to form the elegant "myocardiopathy," "neuropathy," "nephropathy," "uropathy," and "dermopathy." Should our archeologist stumble upon a treatise on diabetes, he would

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