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September 1980


Author Affiliations

San Antonio, Tex

Arch Otolaryngol. 1980;106(9):523. doi:10.1001/archotol.1980.00790330003003

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Who steals my purse steals trash;... But he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.

Shakespeare, Othello

No matter that names ought to say what they mean; they often don't. In particular, they often don't signify to others what one would wish. Why? Historical developments may bypass things, making them obsolete (eg, homeopathy) or even extinct (eg, dinosaurs). Nonetheless, as words and ideas, both names live on in our language. To a lesser degree, evolution modifies the original intent and meaning of nearly all names. For example, mastoidectomy means removal of the mucosa, air cells, and bony septae from part of the temporal bone. In the past, the adjectives simple and complete were added to mastoidectomy to distinguish it from more extensive procedures. Now, both adjectives are inappropriate, because as performed today, the operation is definitely not

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