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August 23, 1913


JAMA. 1913;61(8):616. doi:10.1001/jama.1913.04350080092023

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Origin of the Sign Which Stands for Recipe 

To the Editor  —In view of the general interest in the question of the origin of the sign placed at the head of a prescription, I wish to put before the readers of The Journal an opinion which I have obtained from O. F. Long, professor of Latin, Northwestern University. The following correspondence will make the matter clear.Dear Professor Long:A prescription commences with the symbol R, representing the Latin word recipe. The origin of the ligature is a source of discussion and confusion to many. Most books on prescription-writing state that in ancient times it was the custom to preface a prescription with a pious invocation to Jupiter, or some guardian deity. The prayers finally became abbreviated until they were expressed by 2+,, the astronomical sign for Jupiter. The ligature or stroke across the letter R,

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