Medical Terminology

Adapted from:


by Susan Farrell Werle

for The Genealogical Helper, July – Aug 1988, p. 11-12


Ague: fever

Air-swellings: tympanites; air or gas in the intestines

Anchylosis: stiff joint

Anidrosis: too little perspiration

Anthrax: a carbuncle or boil which is larger and more painful than a boil

Apoplexy: stroke

Arachnitis: inflammation of the arachnoid and pia mater, which are membranes in the brain

Ascites: dropsy of the belly: a collection of water in the stomach

Barber’s Itch: ring-worm of the beard

Bilious Colic: tortuous pain in the belly

Bright’s Disease or Dysentery: Inflammation of the large bowels; commonly known as colitis

Bronchorrhea: a bronchial flu

Brown Tail Rash: an irritating, itching rash on the skin caused by small shedded hairs of the gypsy moth (or its caterpillar) carried by the wind and lodging in the pores of the skin

(The) Blue Disease: a blue tinge over the whole body; commonly known as cyanosis; body warmth is reduced, hampering breathing; usually fatal

Brain Fever: intense headache; fever, vertigo, intolerance to light or sound

Bronze John: see yellow fever

Chilbains: a painful sore or swelling on the foot or hand caused by exposure to the cold

Child-Bed Fever: puerperaI fever: septicaemia: blood poisoning during pregnancy

Clap: gonorrhea

Consumption:tubercu1osis of the lungs

Costiveness: constipation

Crusted Tetter: impetigo

Devonshire Colic: see Painter’s colic

Dropsy: anasarca or edema; a collection of water in a large cavity

Dropsy of the Brain: chronic hydrocephalus; an abnormal increase of fluid in the brain

Dry Belly-Ache: see Painter’s Colic

Egyptian Chlorosis: hookworm

False Measles: see Rose Rash

Flatulent Colic: see Wind Colic

Fits: convulsions

Green Sickness: Chlorosis; a green tinge to the skin of a young girl in puberty.

Infantile Debility: see marasmus

Infantile Spinal Paralysis: polio

Idrosis: greatly increased perspiration

King’s Evil: scrofula, or swelling of the neck glands; tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands

Le Grippe:  form of influenza

Lead Palsy: a sequel to Painter’s colic; muscles of the forearm are palsied from lead in the body

Lumbago: rheumatic pain in the back

Lung Fever: pneumonia

Marasmus; infantile debility; condition wherein a child is unable to absorb nutrition from food

Milk Crust: small red, itchy pimples on the face or scalp of infants or children which burst and exude a sticky fluid forming a yellow crust

Milk Leg: phlebitis of inflammation in the leg beginning two to seven weeks after giving birth

Milk Sickness; also known as trembles; a disease contracted by eating a plant which grows in level, heavily-timbered, wet oak-lard (mainly in the West) or by eating meat wherein the animal has grazed upon such plants; Symptoms: nausea, vomiting, general debility, peculiar odor to the breath

Mother’s Marks: dilation of minute blood-vessels, varying in size, the smallest being the “Spider mark”

Mortification; complete death of a part of the body changing it to a black, stinking Mass

Osmicorosis: perspiration with a peculiar smell

Painter’s Colic: also known as Devonshire colic or dry bellyache; a form of colic experienced with slow lead poisoning

Palsy: paralysis to a body part

Pellagra: a disease caused by eating spoiled maize; symptoms begin with vomiting and diarrhea, followed by a swollen and sore tongue, and red ulcerated mouth, rash on the body, and body sores

Pessary: a device worn in the vagina for birth control or to give support to a displaced uterus

Phisic: medicine

Philes: Hemorrhoids

Pleurisy:  inflammation and mucus in the lungs

Pox: syphilis

Purple Disease: pupura hemorrhagica; a rash of spots on the body, small, round and bright red, which changes to a purple color or dark-red spots in irregular, livid patches

Putrid Fever: see Typhus Fever

Pyemia: a form of blood poisoning from pus in the blood carried to various parts of the body

Rose-Rash: “false measles” or rosenia

Rheumatism: inflammation of the joints

Saint Vitus’s Dance: chorea; nervous disorder which creates involuntary muscular contractions

Sciatica: painful condition in the hip and / or thigh

Scrofula: see King’s Evil

Self-Pollution: masturbation

Ship Fever: see Typhus Fever

Spotted Fever: Cerebro-Spinal Meningitisi

St. Anthony’s Fire: erysipelas; infectious disease with inflammation of the skin and fever

Summer Complaint of Infants; cholera in infants

Typhus Fever: also known as Putrid Fever or Ship Fever-, contagious disease transmitted to man by the bite of fleas, lice, etc.

Uremia: blood in the urine

Water-Brash: pyrosis; similar to heartburn; belching of a thin, watery fluid

Wind Colic: also known as interalgia or flatulent colic; distressing pain in the bowels

Wool Sorter’s Disease: see Anthrax

Yellow Jack or Yellow Fever: also known as Bronze John; infectious tropical disease transmitted by a yellow fever mosquito

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