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April 1980

On Precise Language

Arch Surg. 1980;115(4):559. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1980.01380040181034

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To the Editor.—Lately, it has become fashionable to deplore the use of jargon as being devisive between disciplines and not conducive to the practice of humanistic medicine. Similarly, the drawing of distinctions, such as between male and female, is considered antisocial and sexist. Nevertheless, a more precise language is sometimes desirable. In the profession of surgery, at least, some anatomical precision is indicated. We recently encountered a difference of opinion during a morbidity and mortality conference, when a younger colleague described a "groin" hernia. "Was this not an, 'inguinal hernia'?" we inquired. "What's the difference?" he replied. What's the difference, indeed!

Webster's New World Dictionary says that, "groin," is derived from the term for "a depression or abyss." Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary (not illustrated in this case), says it is the junction of the abdomen and the thigh. I suggest the following description, not to be confused with the

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