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May 6, 1944

USE OF THE TERM "DEGERM"

JAMA. 1944;125(1):82. doi:10.1001/jama.1944.02850190084025

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Abstract

To the Editor:—  Since its introduction in 1938 the word degerm has come into occasional use, though it has not yet found its way into the medical dictionary. The noun degermation has sometimes appeared in the incorrect and meaningless form degermination. An instance of this error may be found in The Journal, March 11, page 709.The following quotation (J. Infect. Dis.63:301 [Nov.-Dec.] 1938) indicates the proper meaning and use of the term:"We have coined this word to express an action not accurately described by "cleanse," "disinfect," "sterilize" or any other available English term. To cleanse is to remove dirt or grease; it is a word without bacteriological significance. To disinfect an object is, properly speaking, to rid it of pathogenic germs, so that it is no longer infected, as in the case of wounds, or potentially infectious, as in the case of skin, instruments, etc. To

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