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To the Editor.
—Concerning the suffix,caine.For the moment forget it and concentrate on the suffix -ine or -in. According to Webster this suffix is used in forming the names of certain elements, as chlorine, and of compounds, as arsine. Names of basic organic substances, as alkaloids, are systematically written with the ending -ine.The Indians of Bolivia and Peru have for centuries kept themselves happy by chewing the leaves of a certain bush. They called the bush, among other things, cuca or coca. The standard botanical name for the bush is Erythroxylum coca.In 1855 Dr. F. Gaedcke, a German chemist, separated an alkaloid from coca leaves which he called erythroxline. In doing this he was following the standard practice of using the family name and adding the suffix for alkaloids -ine. He did not have enough leaves to continue his experiments, so he stopped midway.From 1858
Snyder C. THE SUFFIX "CAINE"-Reply. Arch Ophthalmol. 1972;87(1):110-111. doi:10.1001/archopht.1972.01000020112020