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March 18, 1974

De Absurdum ad Absurdum!

Author Affiliations

Albuquerque, NM

JAMA. 1974;227(11):1260. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230240018009

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To the Editor.—  I refer to "Dictionaries and Usage," as contributed by Lester King, MD (226:1564, 1974). He speaks of the "palpable absurdity" of calling the large mass of the "panniculus adiposus" a panniculus, when it is bigger than a "pannus" in a joint. But life is an absurdity after all!Think of the Italian use of panzone or the Spanish panzon, and then remember that our forefathers saw and named panniculi with a humorous twist, seeing that "little apron" hanging down to shield the modesty of the obese, long before sober scientists hung a name on what they saw in the dissecting room.Think of "musculus," or "musculi," those little mice running around under the skin. And think of those laughing Greek soldiers, when they first saw an elephant and called it a deer (elephas), and saw the hippopotamus and called it a horse of the river.Thank God