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August 2000

Terminology in Dermatology: Logical or Arbitrary?

Arch Dermatol. 2000;136(8):1061. doi:

In a recent article in the ARCHIVES about language and logic, Melski1 cites the following lines by Lewis Carroll as an introduction: "When I use a word . . . it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." Though this should not be the case in scientific language, it seems to happen even to Melski, who certainly means "tick sting" when he writes "tick bite." Ticks have no jaws or pincers with which to bite; rather, they have highly specialized tools to sting and suck blood. Medicine (dermatology in particular) abounds with evidently wrong or even nonsense terms that have evolved throughout the history of science. However, when a new method is developed in our century of science, it should be termed correctly.

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