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From accouchement to agony1: a lexicological analysis of words of French origin in the modern English language of medicine

Pascaline Faure

Abstracts

This paper is a lexicological analysis of words imported from French into the modern English language of medicine. We replace the different contributions of the French language in their historical perspective. We endeavour to give a description of the origin of the words that entered the English language during two periods of time: that following the Norman conquest of England, illustrated by the entry of words such as malady, leprous, or palsy; and that between the 18th and the 19th centuries, marked by contributions in specialties dominated by the French such as obstetrics and gynaecology (accouchement, effacement, curettage, etc.), clinical medicine (bruit, rale, souffle, etc.), neuro-psychiatry (petit mal/grand mal, cri-du-chat, folie à deux, etc.), and surgery (bougie, curette, etc.). Because eponyms are a prominent part of the medical lexicon, and many French physicians have left their marks on the modern English medical language (Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, Descemet’s membrane, Lembert’s suture, etc.), we examine them separately. Our objective is to show that English has not always been pre-eminent in the language of medicine

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The author would like to express her gratitude to the anonymous Lexis reviewers of this article for their constructive comments and additional insights.

Introduction

  • 1 The two words in the title are meant to illustrate the course of human life (from its beginning to (...)

1Most of the papers and books that examine the European languages of medicine have focused on their anglicisation, be it French (Hamburger [1982], Faure [2010, 2012]), Spanish (Gutiérrez [1997], Navarro [1992], Ballesteros [2003], Alcaraz [2009]), Italian (Sartori [2013]), German (Fortuine [2001], Baethge [2008]), Hungarian (Keresztes [2013]), or Croatian (Dobrić [2013]). Although to a lesser extent, the opposite phenomenon – i.e. the influence of foreign languages on the English lexicon has also been widely examined, especially that of French (Prins [1952], Chirol [1973], Otman [1989], Chira [2000], Schultz [2012]). The fields that are usually mentioned as having been enriched by borrowings from French are diplomacy, cooking, military, love, fashion, tourism and arts, but very rarely medicine, although medical English owes a lot to French (Fortuine [2001: 211]). This might be explained by the fact that the pre-eminence of American English in the modern language of medicine is largely accepted (Wulff [2004]). Yet, medical research has not always been the privilege of the Americans and, before World War I, the French happened to dominate Western medicine (Sournia [1997], Dachez [2012]), influencing European medical languages. The present study is the first to examine the bulk of French loanwords in modern medical English.

2Although 80.3% of the words used in the modern English language of medicine are derived from Latin and Greek (Butler cited by Taylor [2017: 3]), their immediate ancestor is often Old French via Anglo-Norman, which we examine in the second section of this paper. If in Medieval times, France was pre-eminent in the field of medicine, its greatest contributions occurred at the end of the 18th century with the French Revolution and throughout the 19th century, a time period to which our third section is devoted. The language of medicine is closely linked to the anatomists, physicians and surgeons that have been pioneers in the medical sciences. Therefore, French eponyms occupy a prominent place in the modern English medical terminology and are the subject of our fourth section.

1. Materials and methods

3Despite the great number of definitions for specialised languages (SLs) over the years, we retained one which we think accounts for their complexity, namely that proposed by Van der Yeught [2016]. A specialised language (e.g. the medical language) is constructed around its community’s intentionality (e.g. curing the sick), and conversely the community (e.g. healthcare professionals) constructs itself around its specialised language (e.g. medical English) within a specialised domain (e.g. Western medicine) that has its own history:

An SL is an “intentionalised” form of a natural language that puts its communicative function at the service of the purpose of the domain among specialised communities. […] Specialised languages need not be highly technical or abstruse to qualify as such, the major criterion is that their communicative capacities are not deployed for communication’s sake, but are harnessed to the service of the purpose of the domain. [Van der Yeught 2016: 52]

4Within a specialised domain (e.g. medicine), a specialised language (e.g. the language of medicine) divides into different space- and time-depending languages (e.g. the modern English language of medicine) which are spoken by politically-structured national communities (e.g. British doctors) and are culture-bound (e.g. evidence-based medicine).

5Within an SL, the lexicon conveys “a lot about the directness of the domain, its intentionality, its objects and their aspectual shapes and its related background abilities” [Van der Yeught: 54]. Hence, a word like “theatre”, used in British medical English, summons the history of 18th century European surgery, where medical amphitheatres permitted the viewing of surgical operations performed on live patients, and draws its specialised meaning (‘a place where surgeries are performed’) from the context of its utterance (e.g. a medical context). Therefore, the specialised lexicon will be properly interpreted solely within the frame of its specialised domain.

6When we analyse the lexicon of modern medical English from a synchronic perspective, we observe two main types of intentionality: concision and privacy. Indeed, in modern Western medicine, looking after the sick demands that the healthcare professional be both efficient and thoughtful. To meet either need, the language of medicine resorts to abbreviations. For instance, OR for “Operating Room” in American English serves the purpose of concision. By being difficult to decipher, Hi5 to designate an HIV-positive patient serves the purpose of privacy. But when we study the lexicon from a diachronic perspective, we notice that what characterises medical English first and foremost is loanwords.

7Our study examines how the English medical lexicon was partly built on borrowings from French. Lexical borrowing is by far the most frequently attested language contact phenomenon and is common to all languages (Tournier [2004]). The term “loanword” as used in this paper is to be understood as a word of foreign origin that entered a language via “transfer or copying processes, whether they are due to native speakers adopting elements from other languages into the recipient language, or whether they result from non-native speakers imposing properties of their native language onto a recipient language” (Haspelmath & Tadmor [2009: 36]).

8Throughout the centuries, the English language of medicine has continually been borrowing words from other languages as new discoveries were being made and new concepts were being developed. Almost from its origin, English has received an influx of words from Greek. In the Middle Ages, the main source language was Latin, although many Latin words got into English by way of Anglo-Norman (Dirckx [1983]).

9But medical English has borrowed its terminology from many other source languages: Arabic, often through Latin, as with “alcohol” from al-kuhul ‘kohl’, and “nuchal” from nukha ‘spinal marrow’; German as with “angst” ‘a feeling of anxiety, apprehension and insecurity’, and mittelschmerz ‘ovulation pain’, from a word meaning ‘middle pain’; Italian as with “malaria” from mal’aria ‘bad air’, and “influenza” from a word meaning ‘an outbreak of an epidemic’, itself from Medieval Latin influentia, as astrologers believed that epidemics were due to the influence of the stars; Spanish as with “pinta”, a tropical infectious skin disease, from a word meaning ‘spot’, and “turista”, a diarrhoea affecting travellers; Portuguese as with “albino” ‘white’; Hindi and Urdu as with “kala-azar”, a form of leishmaniasis, from kālā āzār ‘black disease’; or Japanese as with “sodoku”, an infectious disease transmitted by rats, from so ‘rat’ and doku ‘poison’ (Faure [2012]).

10Another type of loanword that has been greatly contributing to enriching the English medical lexicon is the eponym. It is usually associated with the discovery of a body-part (e.g. “Bartholin’s glands”, after the Danish anatomist, Caspar Bartholin (1655-1748)), the invention of an instrument (e.g. “Foley’s catheter”, after Frederic Foley (1891-1966), an American urologist who produced the original design in 1929, and “stent”, after Charles Stent (1807-1885), an English dentist), or a technique (e.g. “Pfannenstiel’s incision”, a type of abdominal surgical incision, after the German gynaecologist, Hermann Pfannenstiel (1862–1909)). The eponym is often also related to the first clinical description of a disease (e.g. “Hansen’s disease” after Gerhard Hansen (1841-1912), a Norwegian physician), or to the first identification of a pathogen (e.g. “Bartonella” after Alberto Barton (1871-1950), a Peruvian scientist).

11Eponyms can be abbreviated: “Pap smear” or “Pap test”, after the Greco-American physician Georgios Papanikolaou (1883-1962), who invented the test, or “CJD”, from “Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease”, after the two German neurologists, Hans Creutzfeldt (1885-1964) and Alfons Jakob (1884-1931). They can also be at the root of new words through derivative processes: “bartholinitis”, the inflammation of the eponymic glands, or “parkinsonian” and “parkinsonism”, from “Parkinson’s disease”, after the English surgeon, James Parkinson (1755-1824).

12Although loanwords can be studied from many different perspectives including phonetics and phonology, we decided to focus on semantics and morphology, whilst insisting on the underlying historical and scientific background.

13The French loanwords referred to in this paper were manually retrieved from specialised paperback and online medical dictionaries and glossaries whose list is included in a separate subsection. For lack of space, we were not able to cover every entry. Therefore, we inserted a table (see appendix, table 1) that lists all the terms we came across in our research. While we were addressing the question of eponyms, we decided to exclude people that, although Francophones, were not of French nationality or did not conduct their research in France, as we wished to put their work into the context of the history of France. Yet, we could not go through all the French people whose names have marked the English language of medicine as the question of eponyms is not the sole subject of this paper. Therefore, we listed and classified them according to their speciality in a table (see appendix, table 2). Both tables are to be found at the end of this paper.

14For the “Norman conquest” section, the words we selected were extracted from the online Anglo-Norman Dictionary, which is updated regularly and is linked to an extensive database of related texts. In addition, the entries are semantically structured. Anglo-Norman spelling was not fixed at the time, which explains that some words may have different spellings (e.g. trouble / truble / torble ‘trouble, disturbance’). We reproduced the different spellings only when we considered the difference to be of interest. We double-checked all the entries using the Online Etymology Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots and the Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. For the “French medical revolution(s)” section, we used the Dorland dictionnaire médical bilingue français-anglais and the Dictionary of Medical Terms. We selected these two sources for their reliability, regular updates and comprehensiveness. We cross-referenced all the entries of both sections using Memidex. For the “Eponyms” section, we used the Dictionnaire des éponymes médicaux français-anglais (Van Hoof [1993]) and Stedman’s Medical Eponyms whose terms we cross-checked with specialised websites. The eponyms we report are the ones that are still in use in the present medical English language. We discarded those that were obsolete. We chose to write the eponyms with /’s/ when there was only one name-giver, thereby voluntarily ignoring the debate around the use of “synthetic genitive”, although most American publications use N Ø N form (Narayan et al. [2009]).

15Definitions were borrowed from the online TheFreeDictionary’s Medical dictionary, the Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, Lexicon of psychiatric and mental health terms, Medical terminology daily, MedicineNet and Orphanet. All these databases were chosen for their clarity and accuracy.

16To facilitate reading, we opted for a typology by semantic field (e.g. diseases, body parts, medicines, etc.) in the “Norman conquest” section, and by medical speciality (e.g. obstetrics, paediatrics, etc.) in the “French medical revolution(s)” and the “Eponyms” sections. We chose to introduce translations and definitions with single quotes as opposed to double quotes (e.g. “Plaster of Paris” ‘a fine white plaster used to make plaster casts’).

2. The Norman conquest of England and medicine in the Middle Ages

17After the Norman Conquest at the very beginning of the 11th century, the use of the vernacular language as the language of medicine seems to have been eclipsed by Latin and Anglo-Norman. Indeed, there exists a considerable amount of medical and surgical treaties written in Anglo-Norman dating mostly back to the first half of the 13th century onwards (Rothwell [1976]). Most of the words of French origin that appear in these treaties are still in use in today’s medical English whether in their original form (e.g. “malaise”) or after having undergone either morphological (e.g. “anguish”) or semantic changes (e.g. “brace”).

18Many medical words, although of Latin and Greek origin, entered the English language via French and more precisely via Anglo-Norman (e.g. “alienation” ‘delirium, delusions’ (late 14c.) from the Latin alienare in a secondary sense ‘deprive of reason, drive mad’, and Old French alienacion).

19About the middle of the 12th century, the faculty of Montpellier became known as the centre of medical activity. In approximately the same period, medicine emerged as a discipline at the University of Paris (Siraisi [1990]). Physicians from all over Europe and especially from England would train in France.

20Many of the words borrowed from Anglo-Norman correspond to the diseases that were prevalent at that period, most of which were infectious such as leper (mid-13c.), which could designate the disease or the affected person, leprosie (late 14c.) (mod. Eng. “leprosy”), and leprous (from Old French lepros 13c.); and peste (16 c.) ‘pestilence’, plague, ‘fatal epidemic disease’, which has survived as “pest” in today’s English to designate ‘an insect or small animal that is harmful’. The more general term “malady” (from Old French maladie) itself entered the English language in the 13th century.

21These infectious diseases often had skin manifestations that were designated by words borrowed from French: cancre (12c) ‘abscess, sore, ulcer, tumour’, which has given the words “canker” ‘a gangrenous or ulcerous sore, especially in the mouth’, and “chancre” ‘the initial lesion of syphilis’, in modern English; pustule (late 14c.) ‘pustule, boil’; felon (14c.) ‘abscess, ulcer, boil’, a word that is now synonymous for ‘whitlow’; ulcer (from Old French ulcere 15c.) ‘a break in skin or mucous membrane’; fester (late 14c.) ‘fistula, ulcer, tumour, sore’, which still exists as a verb; and polipe (15c.) ‘polypus, growth or ulcer in the nose’, which has been kept in modern English (“polyp”) but with a much larger meaning scope – i.e. ‘a small mass of cells that grows in the body’.

22Diseases of the Middle Ages also caused symptoms such as “fever”, a word whose spelling was influenced by Old French fievre, although it already existed in Old English (fefor / fefer); “phlegm” (late 14c.), a word that comes from Old French fleume ‘viscid mucus’, itself from Late Latin phlegma, one of the four humours of the body, from Greek phlegma ‘humour caused by heat’; “flux” (late 14c.), from Old French flus that meant ‘flowing, rolling, bleeding’; and “noise” (early 13c.), from Old French noise ‘brawl, uproar’.

23Some of the words that designate symptoms have undergone a semantic change such as angu(o)isse (13c.), which used to be defined as ‘pain, difficulty, a painful area’, and now means, in its modern form, “anguish”, ‘great mental suffering, anxiety’, although it still refers to ‘extreme physical pain’ too. Others are still in use in modern English but have become obsolete such as apoplexy (14c.), from Old French apoplexie, which is nowadays being eclipsed by terms like “stroke” and “cerebrovascular accident”.

24The three adjectives “arthritic” (mid-14c.), “paralytic” (14c.) and “pleuritic” (14c.) come respectively from Old French artetique, paralitique (‘palsied, experiencing muscular weakness’, itself from paralisie, palesie and parle(i)sie ‘paralysis, palsy, muscular weakness’, which we find in modern English in the form “paralysis” and “palsy”), and pleuretique (‘suffering from pleurisy’ from Old French pleurisie and Anglo-Norman pleuresie ‘pleurisy, inflammation of the pleura, lung disease’).

  • 2 The word lunetie is reported by cnrtl as synonymous for ‘madness’ and is mentioned in the Anglo-Nor (...)
  • 3 Demency (1520s) is an Anglicised version of the French démence but was replaced by the Latin form d (...)

25The medieval physicians also dealt with all sorts of mental illnesses, which were often designated by words borrowed from French. Some of these words have undergone modifications in modern English: folie (early 13c.) ‘madness, stupidity’, a word that was anglicised into “folly”; lunetie2 (late 14c.) ‘lunacy, (state of) frenzy induced by the moon’; maniaque (15c.) ‘insane’ (mod. Eng. “maniac” and “manic”); demency3 (from Old French démence) and its verb dement (16c.), which is used, in its adjective form “demented”, in modern English; rage (14c.) (from Old French raige, rage) means ‘rage, madness, violent pain’, whereas the word “rabies” (late 16c.) that designates the viral disease itself was borrowed directly from Latin rabiēs; and agony (from Old French agonie, aigoine ‘anguish, terror, death agony’), which was first introduced in the 14th as “mental suffering” and which took its sense of ‘extreme bodily suffering’ in the 17th.

26In certain cases, the words that were borrowed from French got anglicised and later on, francised again: “migraine” (late 14c.) took on the form megrim, from Old French migraigne, and was re-spelled “migraine” in Middle English on the French model.

27Some disease names were metonymic. For instance, goute (13c., modern English “gout” from Old French gote / gout ‘drop’) was so named because the condition was thought to be caused by drops of vicious humours into the joints and tissues. Likewise, the word jaundyce (14c., modern Eng. “jaundice”, from Old French jaunisse / jaunyce) comes from the adjective jaune ‘yellow’.

28Many words that refer to body-parts and that are still in use in modern English are derived from French. The word “anatomy” (14c.) itself entered the English language through French anatomie, from Latin anatomia, from a Late Greek word meaning ‘dissection’. Among the viscera, the Anglo-Norman words buel / boel (late 14c.) ‘intestines, innards’, from Latin botulus ‘sausage’, which is used in modern English in the form of “bowel(s)”, designated the intestine(s).

29Other more general anatomical terms also come from French such as “muscle” (late 14c.), which derives from muscel ‘muscle, sinew’, itself from Latin musculus ‘muscle’, literally ‘little mouse’, by analogy with the animal; “nerve” (late 14c.) from Old French nerf; “joint” (early 15c.) from Anglo-Norman joynt(e) ‘joint, knuckle’ from Old French joint; “trunk” (mid-15c.) from Anglo-Norman trunc from Old French tronc ‘torso of the body’; “loin” (early 14c.) from Old French loigne ‘hip, lumbar region’; and “genitals” (late 14c.) from Anglo-Norman genitales ‘sexual organs’. Two words that still relate to the throat in modern English come from French: “gullet” (14c.) from Old French goulet ‘throat’; and “gargle” (16c.) from Old French gargouiller ‘throat’.

30Like many other words in modern English, some have lost the original initial /e/: “spleen” (13c.) comes from Anglo-Norman espleen from Old French esplen, from Latin splen, from Greek splēn; and “stomach” (early 14c.) from Anglo-Norman estomac(h), from Old French stomaque / estomac, from Latin stomachus ‘gullet, oesophagus, stomach’.
Some words have seen their meaning scope reduced:
jou(w)e (late 14c.), from Old French joue / joe ‘cheek, jaw’, used to mean ‘cheek, jaw, jawbone’ and now, in its form “jaw”, designates the cartilaginous or bony structures that border the mouth.
Some words that were originally anatomical have evolved into notions that have become more abstract:
coer (late 14c.) from Old French cuer / coeur (mod. English “core”) used to designate the heart and now means ‘the central part or the essential meaning of something’.
Some words that still sound Latin entered the English language through French such as “anus” from
anel / anus, itself from Latin anus ‘ring, anus’; and “dens” from dens / dent ‘tooth’, itself from Latin dens ‘tooth’.

31Other anatomical words have undergone semantic changes: Anglo-Norman cors (late 13c.) ‘body’, from Old French corps / cors, now designates ‘a corpse’ (first attested occurrence in 1542); Anglo-Norman brace (mid-14c.) ‘arm’, from Old French, now means, when singular, ‘an orthopaedic appliance or apparatus applied to the body to support its weight and to correct or prevent deformities’, and, when plural, ‘an orthodontic appliance’; and Old French cane (late 14c.) ‘reed, cane’ is now ‘an assistive device that provides partial support and balance’.

  • 4 The first attested use of pharmacy (= drugstore) goes back to 1833.
  • 5 The word was introduced mid-14c from Old French apotecaire ‘apothecary’.
  • 6 As most remedies were extracted from plants, they could be bought from grocers.

32Medieval physicians treated mental and physical illness with three main types of therapy: diet, medication and surgery. Inherited from the physic gardens with medicinal plants that were grown in the 10th century’s monasteries, remedies were quite numerous and needed to be preserved in “pharmacies”4, a word that was introduced late 14c. from Old French f/pharmacie ‘medicine, treatment, purgative’. In France, only after 1484 did apothecaries5 acquire a status that made them different from grocers6.

33Like medicine, pharmacology was based on humourism, and remedies mostly came in the form of preparations to be applied on the skin and were designated by French words: oignement (late 13c.) ‘ointment, salve, unguent’, borrowed from Latin unguentum; ‘balm’, from Old French baume (12 c.); paste (14c.) ‘pasty substance applied to the skin for medicinal purpose’, from Old French, from late Latin pasta ‘medicinal preparation in the shape of a small square’; and Anglo-Norman grece (14c.) from Old French gresse ‘fatty substance, ointment, unguent’ (mod. Eng. “grease”).
Medieval pharmacopoeia also contained remedies made of
poudre (early 13c.) ‘pulverised medicinal preparation’, from Old French (mod. Eng. “powder”); pelote (mid-14c.) ‘medicinal ingredients compressed into a bolus or pill’, from Old French (mod. Eng. “pellet”); and poisun / poison (13c.), derived from Old French puison / poison ‘a potion, a harmful medicinal drink’.

  • 7 A word that designates ‘a sugar-coated tablet or pill’ in modern English.

34Their galenic formulation also bore names borrowed from French: dragée7 ‘a sweet medicinal preparation for the stomach’, from Old French dragie (late 17c.); fiole / viole (late 14c.) from Old French fiole (mod. Eng. “vial”); pessarie (14c.) ‘vaginal suppository’ (modern English “pessary”); ampoule (13c.) (modern English “ampoule” with two alternative forms “ampul” and “ampule”) from Old French ampole ‘flask, vial’; pillule (15c.) (modern English “pill”) borrowed from Latin pilula ‘small round body’; and pokete ‘small cloth bag containing a medicinal preparation’ (mid-14c.), a diminutive of Old North French poke ‘bag’ (modern English “pocket”).

35According to Nancy Siraisi (1990), from the 13th century, surgery (a word from Old French cirurgerie (14c)) in the sense of treatment by incision, cautery, or physical manipulation was normally relegated to barbers, barber-surgeons and surgeons (a word from Old French serurgien / cirurgien).
Surgeons had very limited surgical techniques:
cauterie (15c.) (from Old French cautère, a word that gave out “cautery” and “cauterisation” in modern English), phlebotomy (13c.) (from Old French flebotomie ‘bloodletting’), and trepanning (16c.) (from Old French trephination, itself from trepan).

36The essential surgical equipment consisted of instruments for making incisions and straightening broken limbs, among which we find many words of French origin such as “chisel” (early 14c.) from Old French cisel; “drape” (15c.) from Old French draper, from drap ‘a piece of cloth’; “tourniquet” (17c.) from Old French torner ‘turn’, that is still in use in modern English whereas it has disappeared from modern medical French; “lancet” (late 14c.) from Old French lancette ‘small lance’; and “trepan” (14c.).

37Medieval medicine was also marked by the development of hospitals (a word from Old French hospital / ospital whose meaning evolved from ‘a charitable institution for the needy’ in early 15th century to ‘an institution for sick or wounded people’ in the 16th century). Still under the responsibility of the church, these institutions first aimed at the homeless became progressively places where sick people could be taken care of, treated or observed.

38Although medieval medicine drew on the ancient heritage of Greek medicine, it participated in the refinement of the technical vocabulary and created a favourable environment in which the medicine of the Enlightenment could develop.

3. The French medical revolution(s)

39The Age of Enlightenment, whose foundation was laid by the French philosopher René Descartes’ (1596-1650) rationalist philosophy and which dominated Europe in the 18th century, represented a shift in medicine. This shift accompanied the rejection of both the religious conceptions and the medical doctrines that had prevailed so far. Indeed, with the progress made in anatomy and physiology thanks to dissection and microscopy, humourism was almost abandoned to the benefit of mechanism. Part of this paradigm shift in medicine came from the work by the French Antoine de Lavoisier (1743-1794), who, with his chemical experiments, helped understand basic functions such as respiration, perspiration and digestion. Words such as oxygène and azote (“oxygen” and “azote/nitrogen” in modern English) were his creations.

40Among the medical specialities that were strongly influenced by the French at that time, there were psychiatry and surgery. Philippe Pinel (1745-1826) contributed to the classification of mental disorders by carefully observing his patients’ behaviour and introduced new words like polypharmacie (mod. Eng. “polypharmacy”). He also gave a new definition for existing terms such as “melancholia”, “dementia” and “mania”. In his wake, the two physicians Charles Lasègue (1816-1883) and Jean-Pierre Falret (1794-1870) conceptualised a psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief and hallucinations are transmitted from one individual to another and which they named “folie à deux”, a term that is still in use in modern English.

  • 8 Grand mal would translate into ‘big illness’ and petit mal into ‘small illness’.

41Two other terms that are of prime importance in psychiatry namely “grand mal8”, which defines severe epilepsy characterised by seizures in which there is an abrupt loss of consciousness, and “petit mal”, which designates epilepsy characterised by mild seizures, came into use in the English language around 1870 through French.

  • 9 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition.

42Other French terms that are presently used in the modern English of psychiatry date back to that period: “(la) belle indifférence”, described in DSM-IV9, refers to ‘an apparent lack of concern shown by some patients towards their symptoms’; “abandon”, ‘a letting loose, freedom from self-restraint, surrender to natural impulses’; “bouffée délirante”, which, in DSM-IV, is described as a ‘brief psychotic disorder’; “déjà vu” (1903), which designates ‘the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time’ and means ‘already seen’, and all its derived terms (“déjà pensé” ‘already thought’; “déjà entendu” ‘already heard’; “déjà lu” ‘already read’) that appeared later; “écho de la pensée” or “echo de la pensee” (lit. ‘thought echo’), which is defined as ‘the phenomenon in which a patient hears voices which echo thoughts just after they have occurred to them’.

43Other notable psychiatric terms are “idée fixe” (1836), which describes ‘an idea that dominates one’s mind especially for a prolonged period’; “tic” (1822), ‘a repetitive movement that is difficult, if not impossible to voluntarily control’ and its derived term “tic douloureux”, ‘a painful disorder of the trigeminal nerve, characterised by severe pain in the face and forehead’, which was first reported in 1800, from ticq, which used to designate ‘a twitching disease of horses’10; and “voyeur” and its derived term “voyeurism”, described as ‘a paraphilia in which the preferred method of achieving sexual excitement is by the repetitive watching of unsuspecting people who are naked, disrobing, or engaging in sexual activity’.

  • 11 A medicinal preparation in the form of a sticky paste or salve, usually applied to the skin on a pi (...)
  • 12 A separate guild of master surgeons that had existed since the 14th century and to which Ambroise P (...)

44The French have played a major role in the independence of surgery as a speciality. Indeed, from the 16th century to the 18th century, all over Europe, the Fellowship of Surgeons was merged with the Barbers’ Company. The independence of surgery was heralded by the French Ambroise Paré (1510-1590), a barber-surgeon who is considered to be the father of modern surgery. Originally a wound-dresser, he started his career on the battlefields where he gained his reputation by replacing cauterisation by ligatures, when amputating, and applying emplastrums11 instead of boiling oil on gunshot wounds. According to Lévy [1995: 19], he is believed to have been the first to use the word bistouri (modern English “bistoury”) as ‘a long, narrow-bladed knife, with a straight or curved edge and sharp or blunt point, used for opening or slitting cavities or hollow structures’.
Yet, surgeons had to wait until 1743 when Louis XV ordered the complete separation between Saint-Côme
12 practitioners and barbers (Ramsey [2002: 21]). Therefore, many words that designate major surgical procedures are inherited from French: “cerclage” (end of the 19th/early 20th), which means ‘encircling of a part with a ring or loop, as for correction of an incompetent cervix uteri or fixation of the adjacent ends of a fractured bone’, from French cerclage ‘encircling’; “debridement” (1839), which designates the removal of damaged tissue from a wound, from French débridement, literally ‘unbridling’; and “lavage”, which means ‘washing out or irrigating an organ such as the stomach or the eye’, from French lavage, from laver ‘wash’, and which came into use in the late 18th century.

45Surgical procedures required the invention of surgical instruments, many of which bear names borrowed from French: “bougie” (from bougie ‘wax candle’, itself from the Algerian town Bijiyah where wax trade had been long-established) was introduced in 1754 as a type of thin dilating surgical instrument which can be inserted into passages of the body; “curette”, a word that refers to a thin spoon-like instrument used for scraping the inside of an organ, was introduced in 1753 from French curette, itself from curer ‘scrape, cleanse’; “tampon” ‘a plug of cotton to stanch a flow of blood (especially from the vagina)’ was introduced in 1848, from French tampon ‘plug’, and also gave “tamponade”, which designates ‘a stoppage in the flow of blood in a vessel, caused either by the insertion of a tampon or by outside constriction’, and which is still in use in “cardiac tamponade”, ‘the mechanical compression of the heart by large amounts of fluid or blood within the pericardial space that limits the normal range of motion and function of the heart’.

46The French have also strongly influenced medical obstetrics with Ambroise Paré and his book on how to extract a foetus in case of breech presentation (Dachez [2012: 446]).
In the mid-17
th century, François Mauriceau (1637-1709) founded the first French school of obstetrics and became one of the masters of European obstetrics (Dachez [2012: 450]). We owe him “Mauriceau’s manoeuvre”, a method of delivering the aftercoming head in cases of breech presentation. But the best known is probably Jean-Louis Baudelocque (1745-1810) whose L’Art des accouchements (1781) marked obstetrical practices all over Europe.

47Notable words used in obstetrics are “fourchette” (18c.) ‘a fold of skin at the back of the vulva’ from f(o)urchure / fourchette, itself a diminutive of French fourche ‘fork’; “cystocele” (from French cystocèle, itself from Greek kystis ‘bladder’ and kele ‘tumor, rupture, hernia’), which first came into use in 1811; “accouchement” ‘the action of giving birth to a baby’ (from French accouchement ‘delivery’); “accoucheur” ‘midwife / man-midwife’, which dates back to 1759 and comes from French accoucheur, itself from accoucher ‘give birth’ from couche ‘bed’; “ballottement” (1830) ‘a method of diagnosing pregnancy, in which the uterus is pushed with a finger to feel whether a foetus moves away and returns again’, which comes from French ballottement ‘tossing’; and “douche” (from French douche ‘shower’, itself from Italian doccia), which, in its meaning ‘vaginal cleansing’, was introduced in 1833.

48The French physicians of the time also played a unique role in shaping the language of clinical medicine. “New methods such as percussion, mediate auscultation, and psychological evaluation were introduced, and autopsies became routine” [Weiner & Sauter 2003]. René Laënnec (1781-1826), who practised medicine in Paris, invented a simple instrument that he coined stéthoscope (mod. Eng. “stethoscope”). In 1819, he wrote a treatise, De l’auscultation médiate (1819), describing many of the abnormal sounds in the heart and lungs that were revealed by his stethoscope and whose French names still pertain to the English medical terminology: “bruit”, a word itself from Old French bruit ‘noise’; “rale”, ‘an abnormal crackling sound heard in the lungs’, from râle, itself from râler ‘groan’; “murmur”, an unusual sound heard between heartbeats, itself from Old French murmure ‘murmur, sound of human voices’ that already existed in the English language but with a different meaning; “souffle” ‘a soft, blowing auscultatory sound’; and “rhonchus” that Laënnec coined from the Latinised form of Greek rhenkhos ‘snoring’.

49Many of the words used in modern physiotherapy are of French origin and come from that period: “massage” (1874) and “masseur” (1876) ‘a man who works giving massages’ from masser ‘massage’; “effleurage” (1886) ‘gentle rubbing with the palm of the hand’ from effleurer ‘touch lightly’, from fleur ‘flower’; and “petrissage” ‘kneading’ from pétrir ‘knead’.

  • 13 Source: Online Etymology Dictionary© 2010 Douglas Harper.
  • 14 Peau already means ‘skin’ in French.

50Likewise, some modern English words used in dermatology were borrowed from French: the term “café au lait” ‘coffee with milk’ is reported in English in 176313. Yet, its first known use as a modifier used in medical terminology (e.g. “café-au-lait spots” or “café-au-lait macules”, often abbreviated as “CAL”) dates back to 1946. The term designates ‘any of the brown spots usually on the trunk, pelvis, and creases of the elbow and knees that are often numerous in neurofibromatosis’ and can be found with or without hyphens (“café au lait spots”) and with or without the accent (“cafe au lait spots”). Another French dermatological term “peau d’orange”, sometimes used as a pleonastic hybrid (e.g. “peau d’orange skin”14) and which designates ‘a pitted or dimpled appearance of the skin, especially as characteristic of some cases of breast cancer or due to cellulite’, dates back to the same period (1896).

4. Eponyms

51Eponymisation “honours a person who makes a certain contribution to our culture” (Garfield [1983: 384]), and medicine has a particularly rich eponymic tradition. So much so that Matteson and Woywodt [2006] coined the term “eponymophilia”.

  • 15 For a comprehensive list, see Stedman’s by Bartolucci & Forbis [2005].

52Out of the thousands of doctors and scientists that have given their names to a condition, technique, instrument or anatomical part in the medical language we counted 231 name-givers of French origin. Due to lack of space and because this paper does not deal with eponyms exclusively, we selected the most prominent French contributors15.
Some of these contributors have given more than one eponym but we decided to keep the most widely known such as “Babinski’s reflex/sign”, the plantar reflex, which occurs in infants when the sole of the foot is firmly stroked and whose persistency after age two is a sign of a neurological disorder, after the French neurologist Joseph Babinski (1857-1932), whose name is associated with a dozen other eponyms.

53The French people of the mid-19th century would have many given names (e.g. Georges Albert Édouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette). We kept the one – usually the first – by which the person was best known (e.g. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, Gilles de la Tourette being the family name), unless the given names were hyphenated (e.g. Jean-Martin Charcot).

54We decided not to classify the eponyms according to their dates of creation, although our analysis confirms that most medical eponyms were coined during the 19th century (Sournia [1997]).
We observed that accent-carrying eponyms that are long-established and those that have recently entered the English language of medicine tend to lose their accent(s) (e.g. “Guillain-Barre syndrome” and “Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome”), making them part of the English terminology.

55According to Hamburger [1982: 137-138], there are three main reasons why the medical language resorts to eponymisation. The first is when the person, like Babinski who revolutionised the neurological examination, makes a discovery that turns out to be a major scientific breakthrough.
The second reason is when there is a need to distinguish between different variants of a same instrument (e.g. “Auvard’s speculum”, a type of vaginal speculum, named after the French obstetrician Pierre Auvard (1855-1941)) or technique (e.g. “Lisfranc’s amputation”, named after the French surgeon Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin (1790-1847), which designates a type of amputation of the foot at the tarsometatarsal joint).
The third reason lies in the complexity of syndromes and diseases that would require long descriptive names to which eponyms used to be and are sometimes still preferred (e.g. “Ménétrier’s disease”, named after the French pathologist Pierre Ménétrier (1859-1935), versus “hypoproteinaemic hypertrophic gastropathy”) or when these descriptive names are derogatory (e.g. “Achard-Thiers syndrome”, named after Emile Achard, who was a French internist (1860-1944) and his colleague Joseph Thiers (1885-1960), instead of “diabetic bearded woman syndrome”).

56Among the 231 French name-givers, we counted only four women i.e. 1,7%: Augusta Dejerine-Klumpke (1859-1927) who, although of American origin, did all her medical studies in Paris and has given her name to “Klumpke’s paralysis”, a type of brachial palsy in newborns; Charlotte Dravet (1936-), a French paediatric psychiatrist and epileptologist, who has given her name to “Dravet’s syndrome”, a rare genetic epileptic encephalopathy; Gabrielle Lévy (1886-1935), a French neurologist, who was the co-identifier of “Roussy-Lévy syndrome”, also known as “hereditary areflexic dystasia”, a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder; and, in 1954, the French dentist Éline Papillon-Léage, who contribued to the identification of “Papillon-Leage and Psaume syndrome”, also known as “oral-facial-digital syndrome type 1” (OFD1), a syndrome seen only in females, with mental retardation and various anomalies.

57We classified the 231 name-givers according to the main speciality to which they contributed. We noted that 59 people were neurologists and psychiatrists, which makes neuro-psychiatry the specialty in which the French have contributed the most. The two neurologists Georges Guillain (1876-1961) and Jean Barré (1880-1967) diagnosed two soldiers with what is still called “Guillain-Barré syndrome” or “Guillain-Barre syndrome” (GBS), a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.
Before them, Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893) was also a neurologist whose name is associated with at least 10 medical eponyms including “Charcot’s foot/joint”, “Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease”, “Charcot’s triad” and “Charcot’s disease” (now more widely known as “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”), all neurodegenerative diseases. “Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy” (DMD), a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness, has been named after another famous French neurologist: Guillaume Duchenne (1806-1875).

58Georges Gilles de la Tourette (1857-1904), who was both a paediatrician and a neurologist, has marked the medical language with “Tourette’s syndrome” (TS), a neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalisations. Pierre Broca (1824-1880) is best known for his research on “Broca’s area”, a region of the frontal lobe that has been named after him.

  • 16 The accent has been lost.

59Forty-six French people have given their names to terms pertaining to the field of surgery such as Guillaume Dupuytren (1777-1883), a French anatomist and military surgeon, to whom medical English owes the terms “Dupuytren’s contracture”, where one or more fingers remain permanently bent in a flexed position, and “Dupuytren’s fracture”, which describes a variety of bimalleolar ankle fractures. Joseph Malgaigne (1806-1865) and Auguste Nélaton (1807-1873) were surgeons and colleagues. Both have marked the medical language with respectively “Malgaigne’s fracture”, a vertical pelvic fracture with bilateral sacroiliac dislocation and fracture of the pubic rami, and “Nélaton’s dislocation”, a dislocation of the ankle in which the distal ends of the tibia and fibula are separated. The latter also invented eponymous surgical instruments: “Nelaton’s16 catheter”, a term still in use, and “Nélaton’s (bullet) probe”, which got famous as it was used by the doctors during Lincoln’s final night to ascertain the depth and path of the bullet in his head.

60Twenty-five French people have contributed to dermatology among whom Henri-Alexandre Danlos (1844-1912), who participated in the identification of “Ehlers-Danlos syndrome”, a group of inherited disorders that affect connective tissues.

61Ophthalmology is a field in which the French have been quite prominent with 14 name-givers such as the ophthalmologist Jean-Marie Abadie (1842-1932) with “Abadie’s sign of exophthalmic goitre”, a medical sign characterised by spasm of the levator palpebrae superioris muscle seen in Graves’ disease. But the French ophthalmologist that is best remembered is Jacques Daviel (1693-1762), who was a pioneer in cataract surgery. He was the first to perform an extracapsular cataract extraction (also called “Daviel’s operation”).

  • 17 In the medical literature, the term is also found without the hyphens (“cri du chat syndrome”).

62The French have also been pioneers in paediatrics, with 12 name-givers, among whom famous physicians like Antoine Marfan (1858-1942), who described a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue and that is still known as “Marfan’s syndrome” (MFS). Born 24 years after him, Robert Debré (1882-1978), a French paediatrician and bacteriologist, has his name associated with a rare disorder characterised by an association of muscular pseudohypertrophy and hypothyroidism in children and called “Kocher-Debré-Semelaigne syndrome” (KDS). The largest paediatric hospital in Paris has been named after him.
Another very good illustration of both the presence of French terminology and of French eponyms in modern medical English is “Lejeune’s syndrome” after the French paediatrician and geneticist Jérôme Lejeune (1926-1994), who was the first to describe this rare genetic disorder, which he named “cri-du-chat syndrome”
17, a French term that is still in use in modern English and which means ‘cat cry’, the disorder being characterised by a high-pitched cry.

63Although the French were not many to contribute to bacteriology, a field dominated by the Germans (e.g. Escherichia coli after Theodor Escherich; Koch bacillus after Robert Koch; Ehrlichia after Paul Ehrlich; Bilharzia after Theodor Bilharz, etc.) with only eight name-givers, they have marked the specialty durably: Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), who was one of founding fathers of medical microbiology, to whom we owe the terms “Pasteurella”, a genus of Gram-negative anaerobic bacteria, and “pasteurisation”, a process that kills bacteria in food, drinks or beverages; Albert Calmette (1863-1933) and Camille Guérin (1872-1961), who developed a vaccine against tuberculosis, still called BCG, an abbreviation of “Bacillus Calmette-Guerin”; Fernand Widal (1862-1929), who invented “Widal test” to diagnose typhoid fever; Alexandre Yersin (1863-1943), a Swiss but naturalised French physician and bacteriologist, after whom the bacillus responsible for the bubonic plague, which he discovered, was named (Yersinia pestis); Louis-Charles Malassez (1942-1909), who identified the genus Malassezia; and more recently, Robert Debré, who has given his name to “Debré’s phenomenon”, which, in measles, designates the failure of the rash to develop at the site of immune serum injection.

64In hepatology, we retained Augustin Gilbert (1858-1927) with “Gilbert’s syndrome”, a common, harmless liver condition in which the liver does not properly process bilirubin; and René Laënnec with “Laennec’s cirrhosis”, which is also known as “alcoholic cirrhosis”.

65Gastroenterology has been marked by Jacques Caroli (1902-1979), who was the first to describe two rare congenital disorders of the intrahepatic bile ducts, both characterised by dilatation of the intrahepatic biliary tree and named “Caroli’s disease” and “Caroli’s syndrome”.

66Among the eight French people that are known to have contributed to otorhinolaryngology, we retained Prosper Ménière (1799-1862) whose name has been given to “Ménière’s disease” or “Meniere’s disease” (MD), a disorder of the inner ear; and Jean Vincent (1862-1950), a French bacteriologist, who identified a progressive painful infection with ulceration, swelling and sloughing off of dead tissue from the mouth and throat due to the spread of infection from the gums called “Vincent’s gingivitis” or, in its non-eponymous vernacular form, “trench mouth” and, in its medical form, “necrotising ulcerative gingivitis”.

67In cardiology, out of the six known name-givers, only Étienne-Louis Fallot (1850-1911) with “tetralogy of Fallot” (TOF), a congenital heart defect responsible for blue baby syndrome, and Louis Vaquez (1860-1936) with “Vaquez’s disease”, also known as “polycythemia vera”, have marked the English language of medicine durably.
In a closely related field, Maurice Raynaud (1834-1881) is to be remembered for “Raynaud’s syndrome” or “Raynaud’s phenomenon”, a common condition that affects the blood supply to certain parts of the body – usually the fingers and toes.

68Finally, forensic medicine has strongly been influenced by the work of Auguste Tardieu (1818-1879), the pre-eminent forensic medical scientist of the mid-19th century, to whom we owe the term “Tardieu’s spots” or “Tardieu’s ecchymoses”, subpleural and subpericardial petechiae or ecchymoses, as observed in the tissues of persons who have been strangled, or otherwise asphyxiated.

69Another classification – according to the name-giver – distinguishes those eponyms in which the name-giver is a physician or a scientist from those in which the name-giver is a patient. Studies shows that 4% of the eponyms are derived from a patient’s name (Lončar & Ostroški Anić [2014]), but we found none of French origin.

70Although there is a marked tendency to replace eponyms by orthonyms (Turnpenny & Smith [2003]; Woywodt & Matteson [2007]; Whitworth [2007]), we found some recent eponyms such as “Aicardi’s syndrome”, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder named after Jean Aicardi (1926-2015), a world-renowned physician and child neurologist, whose name is also associated with “Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome” (AGS), a genetic disorder that he identified with his colleague Françoise Goutières in 1984.

Conclusion

71The exact number of French loanwords in English is difficult to estimate. A computerised survey of about 80,000 words from the Shorter Oxford Dictionary (3rd edition) (Finkenstaedt & Wolff [1973]) found that around 30% were of French origin. Other sources mention figures that range between 45% and 55%. Be that as it may, it appears that French is the English lexicon’s primary source language.
The language of medicine consists of words most of which were borrowed from Greek and Latin. The English language of medicine is no exception, although, as mentioned in our study, some of these words have entered English via French.

72Our study highlighted the bulk of French loanwords in the medical lexicon over two main periods of time, namely that of the Anglo-Norman period, during which the words that were infused form the basic vocabulary, and that of the French medical revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries marked by the importation of words related to scientific breakthroughs. Because eponyms are an important part of the medical lexicon, we devoted a whole section to terms named after famous French anatomists, physicians and surgeons, while singling out the specialities in which the French were ahead in Europe. Our study has shown that French is a major source language for medical English, and should help put the much criticised anglicisation of modern medical French into perspective (Faure [2010]).

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 1. Medical words of French origin still in use in Modern English

Word

Domain

Word (when different) in modern French

Meaning (when different) in modern French

Word in modern French (when different meaning)

abandon

psychiatry

accouchement

obstetrics

agony

general

agonie

excruciating pain

ambulance

general

ampoule

pharmacology

anguish

psychiatry

angoisse

antivenin

general

anus

anatomy

apoplexy

general

apoplexie

apothecary

pharmacology

apothicaire

assay

general

essai

azote

chemistry

bandage

surgery

belle indifférence

psychiatry

ballottement

obstetrics

balm

pharmacology

baume

barbotage

neurology

bias

general

biais

bistoury

surgery

bistouri

bouffée délirante

psychiatry

bougie

surgery/obstetrics

bouton

neurology

bowel

anatomy

intestins

brace

orthopaedics

minerve, attelle, appareil dentaire / orthopédique

bruit

cardiology

burette

chemistry

cachet

pharmacology

café au lait spot

dermatology

tache café-au-lait

caisson disease

general

maladie des caissons

calorie

general

cancre

dermatology

a dunce

un chancre

canal

anatomy

capsule

anatomy

cartilage

anatomy

cauterisation

surgery

cautérisation

cerclage

obstetrics

chamber

cardiology

chambre

chancre

dermatology

chisel

surgery

ciseau

cholera

infectious diseases

choléra

cholesterol

general

cholestérol

commode

general

a chest of drawers

une chaise percée

complaint

general

complainte

a type of song

une plainte

confinement

obstetrics

containment

congeal

general

congeler

freeze

solidifier

contrecoup

general

corpse

general

cadavre

corset

orthopaedics

couch

general

couche

a layer/ bed/nappy/ diaper

une table d’examen

coup

general

couvade

psychiatry

cramp

general

crampe

cri-du-chat syndrome

psychiatry

syndrome du cri-du-chat

culdoscope

surgery

colposcope

curette

surgery

curettage / curettement

surgery

curetage

cuvette

chemistry

cystocele

urology

cystocèle

debridement

surgery

débridement

decease

general

décéder

decoction

pharmacology

décoction

deformed

general

déformé

degeneration

general

dégénération

deglutition

general

déglutition

déjà vu

psychiatry

delivery

obstetrics

délivrance

demented

psychiatry

dément

denture

odontology

dentier

detergent

surgery

détergent

diarrhoea

gastroenterology

diarrhée

diphtheria

ENT

diphtérie

disease

general

désaise

unease

une maladie

dislocation

surgery/physiotherapy

dormant

infectious diseases

douche

pharmacology

dragee

pharmacology

dragée

drape

surgery

drap

echo de la pensée

psychiatry

écho de la pensée

écraseur

surgery

effacement

obstetrics

effleurage

physiotherapy

engagement

obstetrics

engorgement

haematology

fatigue

general

feeble

general

faible

felon

dermatology

félon

a traitor

un panaris

flux

infectious diseases

folie à deux

psychiatry

fontanelle

obstetrics

fourchette

anatomy

fragile

general

friable

general

frotteurism

psychiatry

frotteurisme

fugue

psychiatry

gauze

surgery

gaze

gavage

psychiatry

gender

general

genre

genitals

anatomy

(parties) génitales

globule

haematology

goitre

endocrinology

gouge

surgery

gout

metabolism

goutte

grand mal

psychiatry

grattage

surgery

grippe

infectious disease

guillotine

surgery

hospice

general

hospital

general

hôpital

idée fixe

psychiatry

idiot savant

psychiatry

impotence

general

infusion

pharmacology

innocent

general

bénin

internment

psychiatry

internement

intestine

anatomy

intestin

jaundice

general

jaunisse

joint

anatomy

lancet

surgery

lancette

lavage

surgery

leprosy

infectious diseases

lèpre

loin

anatomy

lombaire

malady

general

maladie

malaise

general

mallet

surgery

maillet

maniac / manic

psychiatry

maniaque

massage

physiotherapy

medicine

general

médecine / médicament

medicine cabinet

general

armoire à pharmacie

medicochirurgical

general

médico-chirurgical

migraine

neurology

morgue

general

muscle

anatomy

murmur

cardiology

souffle

nerve

anatomy

nerf

ointment

pharmacology

pommade

oxygen

chemistry

oxygène

palsy

neurology

paralysie

plaster of Paris

surgery

plâtre

passage

general

paste

pharmacology

pâte

pastille

pharmacology

peau d’orange

dermatology

pellet

pharmacology

perle

pharmacology

perleche

dermatology

perlèche

personnel

general

pessary

pharmacology

pessaire

petit mal

psychiatry

petrissage

physiotherapy

pétrissage

pharmacy

general

pharmacie

physician

general

médecin

physique

general

pill

pharmacology

pilule

pinzette

surgery

pincette

pipette

surgery

plaque

cardiology

pleurisy

pulmonology

pleurésie

plombage

surgery

poison

pharmacology

polyp

dermatology

polype

polypharmacy

pharmacology

polypharmacie

pomade

pharmacology

pommade

pore

dermatology

pouch

anatomy

poche

powder

pharmacology

poudre

profound

general

profond

pustule

dermatology

rage

general

rale

cardiology

râle

rapport

psychiatry

reservoir

virology

réservoir

retard

general

rongeur

surgery

rouleau

haematology

sac

anatomy

sadism

psychiatry

sadisme

scissors

surgery

ciseaux

somnolent

neurology

souffle

cardiology

spleen

anatomy

rate

stethoscope

general

stéthoscope

stomach

anatomy

estomac

surgeon

surgery

chirurgien

talc

pharmacology

tampon

surgery

tamponade

cardiology

tamponnade

tic

psychiatry

tic douloureux

neurology

torsades de pointes

cardiology

tourniquet

surgery

turnstile

un garrot

trepanning/trephining

surgery

trépanation

trephine

surgery

trépan

trocar

surgery

trocart

trouble

general

trunk

anatomy

tronc

tulle gras

surgery

ulcer

dermatology

ulcère

urinal

general

vial

pharmacology

fiole

voyeurism

psychiatry

voyeurisme

Table 2. French people whose names are associated with one or more medical terms in modern English

Neurology / Psychiatry

Alajouanine, Baillarger, Barré, Bourneville, Bravais, Briquet, (Paul) Broca, Brown-Séquard, Brunhes, Capgras, Cestan, Charcot, Chavany, Chenais, Cornil, Cotard, Crouzon, Cruchet, de Clérambault, Dejerine, Dejerine-Klumpk, Dravet, Duchenne, Duclos, Falret, Feil, Foix, Foville, Garcin, Gastaut, Gilles de la Tourette, Grasset, Guillain, Hozay, Janet, Joffroy, Klippel, Landouzy, Landry de Thézillat, , Léri, Lévy, Lhermitte, Londe, Morel, Raymond, Sicard, Sottas, Souques, Strohl, Thaon, Thévenard, Thiers, Thomas, Tinel, Trénaunay, Verger, Villaret, Vulpian, Weil

Surgery

Amussat, Trélat, Béclard, Béraud, Bitôt, Breschet, (Auguste) Broca, Calot, Calvé, Carrel, Cathelin, Chaput, Chassaignac, Chopart, Cloquet, Delbet, Delorme, Delpech, Demons, Denonvilliers, Dupuytren, Fontaine, Guyon, Hartmann, Jaboulay, de La Peyronie, Labbé, Larrey, (René) Le Fort, (Léon) Le Fort, Lembert, Leriche, Lisfranc, Louis, Lucas-Championnière, Malgaigne, Morand, Mondor, Nélaton, Ollier, Petit, Poncet, Reclus, Robineau, Segond, Tillaux

Dermatology

Alibert, Bazex, Besnier, Blum, Danlos, Darier, Degos, Devergie, Dubreuilh, Dupré, Favre, Fournier, Gaucher, Gougerot, Hallopeau, Jacquet, Lutzner, Papillon, Pautrier, Racouchot, Sabouraud, Sézary, Touraine, Wickham, Woringer

Ophthalmology

Abadie, Amalric, Anel, Badal, Bailliart, Beauvieux, Daviel, Galezowski, Gayet, Javal, Parinaud, Rochon-Duvigneaud, Sauvineau, (Georges) Weill

Paediatrics

Aicardi, Alagille, Apert, Bergeron, Debré, Desbuquois, Lejeune, Marfan, Marie, Maroteaux, Semélaigne, (Jean) Weill

Anatomy

Bertin, Descemet, Donné, Littré, Magendie, Poupart, Ranvier, Sappey, Vieussens

Internal medicine

Achard, Bard, Bouillaud, Bouveret, Carteaud, Forestier, Lasègue, Mamou, Roger

ENT

Balme, Collet, Cruveilhier, Dieulafoy, Hanot, Lermoyez, Ménière, Vincent

Bacteriology

Calmette, Guérin, Giard, Lemierre, Pasteur, Widal, Yersin, Malassez

Pathology

Bouchard, Brissaud, Lannelongue, Masson, Ménétrier, Trousseau

Cardiology

Beau, Fallot, Laubry, Lenègre, Lutembacher, Vaquez

Gynaecology / Obstetrics

Auvard, Baudelocque, Levret, Mauriceau, Pozzi, Sigault

Haematology

Abrami, Auberger, (Jean) Bernard, Hayem, Soulier

Immunology

Arthus

Nephrology/Urology

Berger, Mercier

Physiology

(Claude) Bernard, Pachon

Dentistry

Papillon-Léage, Psaume, Robin

Hepatology

Gilbert, Laënnec

Gastroenterology

Caroli, Dance

Pharmacology

Ambard

Genetics

Lamy, Balbiani

Phlebology

Raynaud

Psychology

Binet

Forensic medicine

Tardieu

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Notes

1 The two words in the title are meant to illustrate the course of human life (from its beginning to its end) thereby highlighting the role played by French in the English medical lexicon.

2 The word lunetie is reported by cnrtl as synonymous for ‘madness’ and is mentioned in the Anglo-Norman dictionary.

3 Demency (1520s) is an Anglicised version of the French démence but was replaced by the Latin form dementia in the 19th century.

4 The first attested use of pharmacy (= drugstore) goes back to 1833.

5 The word was introduced mid-14c from Old French apotecaire ‘apothecary’.

6 As most remedies were extracted from plants, they could be bought from grocers.

7 A word that designates ‘a sugar-coated tablet or pill’ in modern English.

8 Grand mal would translate into ‘big illness’ and petit mal into ‘small illness’.

9 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition.

10 Source: www.cnrtl.fr

11 A medicinal preparation in the form of a sticky paste or salve, usually applied to the skin on a piece of linen or leather.

12 A separate guild of master surgeons that had existed since the 14th century and to which Ambroise Paré had belonged.

13 Source: Online Etymology Dictionary© 2010 Douglas Harper.

14 Peau already means ‘skin’ in French.

15 For a comprehensive list, see Stedman’s by Bartolucci & Forbis [2005].

16 The accent has been lost.

17 In the medical literature, the term is also found without the hyphens (“cri du chat syndrome”).

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References

Electronic reference

Pascaline Faure, « From accouchement to agony: a lexicological analysis of words of French origin in the modern English language of medicine », Lexis [Online], 11 | 2018, Online since 30 April 2018, connection on 21 May 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lexis/1171 ; DOI : 10.4000/lexis.1171

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About the author

Pascaline Faure

Centre de Linguistique en Sorbonne (CeLiSo - EA 7332) Sorbonne University Pierre and Marie Curie School of Medicine
pascalinefaure@orange.fr

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