This is for historians and genealogists who are completely stumped when researching details about an illness suffered by someone who lived in the 19th century. The glossary below is presented here to help with understanding obsolete medical terminology. It is from Lewis’ Pocket Medical Vocabulary (second edition, HK Lewis, London, 1891).  It is not necessarily accurate or complete. In converting the text to a table, at least two errors were noticed.  One error – the glossary’s definition of “Diabetes Mellitus” is correct, but the definition of “Diabetes” is completely wrong – clearly the author and/or the editor had forgotten their Greek.  These days you can look up “Diabetes” in the dictionary and find a full definition and even the etymology of the word.  I need make no further comment there.  I have not corrected the table. The other error was a typographical error.  That was corrected.  There may well be other errors, even some produced by the modern day optical character reader (!)  These will be corrected when they are found.

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Wrington Cottage Hospital Ambulance, courtesy the Wecome Collection

1891 Medical Glossary

Abdomen: The belly.
Abscess:A cavity from morbid action containing pus.
Addison's disease:A disease of the suprarenalcapsules associated with bronzing of the skin.
Adenitis:Inflammation of a gland.
Albuminuria:Albumen in the urine.
Amputation:Cutting off with a knife or removal of a part by other means.
Amyloid:Like starch.
Anaemia:Want of red corpuscles in blood.
Anasarca:Serum in subcutaneous areolar tissue.
Aneurism:A tumour due to a dilatation of an artery.
Angina Pectoris:Pain in the heart attended with sense of strangulation.
Angina, simple:Sore throat.
Anthrax:A carbuncle
Anus:The fundament, the orifice of the rectum.
Aorta:The great artery arising from the left ventricle of the heart.
Apoplexy:The sudden arrest of sense and motion due usually to haemorrhage into the brain.
Ascites:A collection of serous fluid in cavity of peritoneum.
Asphyxia:Condition due to arrest of air supply to lungs (by suffocation).
Asthenia:(Asthenic) Without strength ; debility.
Asthma:Paroxysmal difficulty in breathing from a peculiar nervous affection.
Atheroma:An encysted tumour containing pap­ like matter, also a disease affecting the coats of the arteries.
Atrophy:A wasting away.
Basilar:Pertaining to, or towards the base, especially of the skull.
Bed sores:A sloughing sore produced by long pressure, e.g., on the backs of patients who lie long in one position.
Beri-beri:A tropical disease of a paralytic character.
Bladder:A membranous bag, especially that which acts as a receptacle for urine.
Brain:The contents of the cranium.
Bright's disease:Several forms of kidney disease, associated with albuminuria.
Bronchitis:Inflammation of the brochial tubes.
Bubo :A circumscribed swelling of a lumphatic gland, especially in the groin.
Cachexia:A bad condition or habit of the body.
Calculus:A stone, or concretion which may form in many parts of the animal body, such as the bladder, the gall-bladder, or the kidney.
Cancer:A malignant morbid growth, characterised by its tending to spread indefinitely along the lymphatjcs, see carcinoma
Cancrum oris:A kind of foul sloughing ulcer of the mouth.
Capillary: Applied to tubes of very small calibre - like a hair.
Carbuncle:A gangrenous inflammation of the subcutaneous cellular tissue.
Carcinoma:cancer; a malignant neoplasm characterised by a network of areolar tissue.
Cardiac:Pertaining to the heart or to the cardia.
Caries :An a f fe ct i on of bone si milar to ul cera t ion.
Cata rr h:Inflammat i on with in c r e ased sec ret i on from a mucous membrane
Cellulitis:Inflammation of cellular tissue.
Chloroform:A liquid composed of chlorine, carbon, and hydrogen .
Chorea:St Vitus' dance, an affection principally of young girls, characterised by irregular and involuntary motion of the limbs, face and body.
Cirrhosis:A yellow contracted fissured granular condition of the liver, a thickened condition of the connective tissue of an organ especially of the liver.
Collapse:Prostration of the vital power.
Colloid cancer.A kind of cancer of a gummy consistence.
Colon:A portion of large intestine between crecum and rectum.
Coma:A profound stupor.
Compound fracture:A fracture of a bone communicating with the surface by a wound .
Congenital:Pertaining to an individual at his [her] birth.
Congestion of lungs : A term often used for pneumonia.
Congestion:An excessive accumulation of blood or other fluid in an organ.
Constipation:Infrequent action of the bowels.
Consumption:A wasting away, generally equivalent to phthisis.
Continued fever:A fever which abates, but never entirely intermits.
Convulsion:A violent and involuntary contraction of muscles.
Corrosive sublimate:The perchloride of mercury.
Croup:An affection of the larynx and trachea occasioning extreme difficulty of breathing.
Cyst:A pouch or sac, abnormally developed in the body .
Cystitis:Inflammation of the bladder.
Degeneration:Deterioration, degradation of molecular structure, as when muscular tissue gives place to fatty matter.
Delirium :Disturbance of the mental functions either temporarily as in fever, or permanently as in insanity.
Delirium tremens:Trembling delirium from the abuse of alcohol.
Dementia:Feebleness of mind.
Dermatitis:Inflammatory disorder of the skin.
Diabetes mellitus:A disease characterised by excess of urine and by the presence in it of grape sugar.
Diabetes:Containing sugar.
Diarrhoea:Excessive evacuation of the faeces.
Diffuse:Without well-defined limits.
Dilatation:The act of expanding in all directions.
Diphtheria:An epidemic, infectious inflammation of fauces, nares, pharynx, and larynx, with an exudation of characteristic membrane.
Dropsy:1, ascites; 2, anasarca.
Duodenum:The first part of the small intestine.
Dysentery:A disease characterised by inflammation of mucous membrane of large intestines causing bloody stools.
Dyspepsia:Difficult digestion.
Eclampsia:Convulsions, especially those occurring in the puerperal state.
Eczema:An inflammatory disease of the skin with vesicles.
Effusion:A pouring out, especially applied to morbid secretions.
Embolism:The obstruction of a vessel by a clot which has travelled with the blood current.
Embolus:A clot brought by the blood current.
Emphysema :A condition in which air is present in the subcutaneous connective tissue.
Empyema:A collection of pus in the cavity of the pleura.
Encephalitis:Inflammation of brain
Endocarditis:Inflammation of the endocardium
Endometritis:Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the uterus.
Enteric fever:Typhoid fever.
EnteritisInflammation of the intestines.
Entero colitis:Inflammation of the small intestine and colon.
Epilepsy:A disease characterised by sudden attacks of unconsciousness and convulsions.
Epithelioma:A kind of cancer with large development of epithelial cells.
Erysipelas:A febrile contagious inflammation of the skin.
Ether:Commonly used for sulphuric or di-ethyl ether, also the designation of a large class of organic bodies.
Exfoliation:Separation of dead portion of bone from living.
Exhaustion:Emptying, loss of nervous power.
Exophthalmia:A protrusion of the eye from its orbit.
Extravasation:The escape of contents of vessels into surroundii'ig textures.
Fatty degeneration:change of a tissue into fat globules.
Femoral:Belonging to the femur or to the thigh.
Femur:The thigh bone.
Fever: A diseased condition aharacterised by a high body temperature.
Fibroid:1, resembling simple fibre in structure; 2, fibroma.
Fistula:A canal or track through the tissues.
Fracture:A break, a solution of continuity.
Gall bladder:A reservoir for the bile.
Gall stone:A concretion in the gall bladder.
Gangrene:Mortification or partial death.
Gastric: Pertaining to the stomach.
Gastritis:Inflammation of the stomach.
Genitals:The parts pertaining to generation.
Gland:An organ having the function of secretion or excretion.
Goitre:Bronchocele, an enlargement of the thyroid body.
Gonorrhoea:A purulent contagious discharge from the urethra or vagina, commonly called clap .
Gout:A constitutional disease frequently affecting the joints, but mainly characterised by excess urates in the body.
Haematemesis:Vomiting blood.
Haematuria:Blood in the urine.
Haemoptysis:Spitting of blood.
Haemorrhage:Any discharge of blood from its vessels.
Heart:The chief organ in the circulation.
Hectic fever:The fever of phthisis.
Hemiplegia:Paralysis of one lateral half of the body .
Hepatic:Pertaining to the liver.
Hepatitis:Inflammation of the liver.
Hernia:A tumour due to the displacement and protrusion of a viscus from its cavity.
Hip disease:An inflammatory condition of the hip joint occurring in children.
Hodgkin's disease:Lymphadenoma.
Hydatids:The cystic condition of a taenia, occurring and forming a tumour in the tissues.
Hydro-nephrosis:An accumulation of urine in the kidney.
Hypertrophy:The enlargement of a part from increased nutrition.
Hypostatic pneumonia:A passive form of hyperaemia due to long retention of one position.
Idiopathic:spontaneous, applied to a disease not consequent on any other disease or on injury.
Incompetence:inability to fulfil the proper duty, as when the valves of the heart refuse to close completely.
Inflammation:A condition characterised by heat, redness, swelling, and tenderness, and by impairment of the function of a part.
Influenza:An epidemic inflammatory disease, usually characterised by catarrh of the pituitary and respiratory mucous membranes, fever and prostration.
Inguinal:Prertaining to the groin.
Interstitial:Pertaining to the interstices.
Intestine:The canal from the stomach to the anus.
Intra-:A prefix denoting within.
Irritability:A power peculiar to organised bodies, by which they move and contract in response to stimulation.
Jaundice:A condition due to interference with the secretion of bile characterised by yellowness of the skin, eyes, and urine.
Kidneys:The organs secreting urine.
Laceration:A breach made by tearing.
Lardaceous degeneration:Amyloid degeneration, the conversion of the tissues into a peculiar starch-like substance.
Laryngeal:Pertaining to the larynx.
Laryngitis:Inflammation of the larynx.
Larynx:The upper part of the windpipe.
Leprosy:A contagious disease producing nodules and ulceration of the skin and finally destroying the parts affected.
Leucocythemia:An organic disease in which the white corpuscles are increased in number from a want of the action which transforms them into red corpuscles.
Ligament:A fibrous band uniting bones.
Liver:The gland secreting the bile.
lleo colitis:Enteritis affecting the ileum and the colon.
lnanition:Emptiness, want of fulness.
Locomotor-ataxy:A disease of the spinal cord, causing a want of coordination in the movements of the limbs.
Lumbar:Pertaining to the loins.
Lungs:The main respiratory organs.
Lymphadenoma:Hodgkin's disease, a malignant hypertrophic disease of the lymphatic glands.
Malariathe germs of noxious organic matter in the foul air of marshy regions.
Malignant:Serious in character, dangerous to life, used especially of cancer.
Marasmus:A gradual deterioration or atrophy.
Mediastinum:A space in the chest between the pleurre.
Membranous:Having the character of a membrane.
Meningeal:Pertaining to the membranes of the brain.
Meningitis:Inflammation of the membranes
Menorrhagia:Excessive menstruation.
Miliary:Like millet seeds.
Miscarriage:The expulsion of the ovum within six weeks after conception.
Mitral valves:The left auriculo-ventricular valves of the heart.
Mitral:Like a bishop's mitre, ie, with two flaps.
Mumps:An epidemic inflammation of the parotid gland.
Myelitis:1, inflammation of the spinal cord and its membranes; 2, inflammation of brain substance.
Myocarditis:Inflammation of the muscular substance of the heart.
Myxodema:A chronic disease in which the thyroid body is atrophied, and the connective tissues converted into a mucous or gelatinous substance.
Nasal:Pertaining to the nose.
Neck:1, the part between the head and the trunk; 2, a narrowed part or cervix of an organ.
Necrosis:The death of a bone or part of a bone; analogous to gangrene.
Nephritic:Pertaining to the inflammation of the kidneys.
Nephritis:Inflammation of the kidney.
Neuritis:Inflammation of a nerve.
Oedema:Effusion of serum into the connective­ tissue.
Oesophageal:Belonging to the cesophagus.
Oesophagus:A musculo-membranous canall from the pharynx to the stomach; the gullet.
Opium:The concrete juice of Papaver somniferum.
Organic disease:A disease caused by a structural change as opposed to functional.
Otitis:General inflammation of the ear.
Ovarian:Belonging to the ovary.
Ovary.The organ in the female where the ova or eggs are formed.
Palate:The roof of the mouth.
Pancreas:A gland behind the stomach.
Papilla:A small conical eminence.
Paralysis:Palsy, loss of voluntary motion or of sensation.
Paraplegia: Palsy of one half of the body, usually applied to the lower half.
Parotitis:Inflammation of the parotid glands, mumps.
Parturition:The act of bringing forth; expulsion of the fcetus from the uterus.
Pelvic: Belonging to the pelvis.
Penis:The intromittent male organ of generation.
Pericarditis:Inflammation of the pericardium.
Pericardium:The serous membrane covering the heart.
PeriostitisInflammation of the periosteum.
Peripheral:Pertaining to the circumference, or border, or edge.
Peritonitis:Inflammation of the peritoneum.
Pernicious anaemia:An acute form of idiopathic anremia with great gastric disturbance, due to destruction of blood by some poison in the portal circulation.
Pertussis:Hooping cough.
Phagedrena:Rapid ulceration with sloughs.
Pharyngitis:Inflammation of the pharynx.
Phlebitis:Inflammation of a vein.
Phrenic:Pertaining to the diaphragm.
Phthisis:a destructive disease of the lungs, generally due to tuberculosis.
Placenta prrevia:The presence of the placenta over the mouth of the uterus.
Plague:An endemic contagious febrile disease characterised by buboes and carbuncles.
Pleura-pneumonia:Inflammation of the lungs and pleura at the same time.
Pleurisy:Inflammation of the pleura.
Pleuritis:Inflammation of the pleura.
Pneumonia:Inflammation of the substance of the lungs.
Pneumothorax:An accumulation of air in the pleural sac.
Post-:(In composition), behind, after.
Premature labour.Labour during the last three months of the natural term, but before its completion.
Prolapse of rectum:A falling down of the rectum.
Prolapse of uterus:Protrusion of the womb beyond or at the vulva.
Prostate:A gland in the male, surrounding the neck of the bladder.
Prostatitis:Inflammation of the prostate gland.
Psoas abscess:Abscess of the loin in the sheath of the psoas muscle.
Psoriasis:A kind of scaly skin disease, lepra.
Puerperal fever:The septic fever of childbed.
Puerperal:Pertaining to the state of a woman after labour.
PulmonaryPertaining to the lungs.
Purpura Haemorrhagi(c)a:a very severe form of purpura.
Pyaemia:Blood poisoning with the formation of secondary abscesses.
Pyelitis:Inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney.
Pyloric:Belonging to the pylorus.
Pylorus:The opening from stomach to duodenum.
Pyo:Relating to pus or purulency.
Rectum:The last portion of intestine.
Recurrent:1, returning to their origin; applied to a nerve and to branches of arteries, nerves, &c; 2, tending to recur; applied to tumours.
Regurgitation:The act of throwing back a portion of contents; eructation
Remittent fever:A malarious fever with irregular repeated exacerbations.
Renal:Pertaining to the kidney.
Respiration:The process of breathing.
Rheumatic:Belonging to rheumatism.
Rheumatism:A disease characterised by shifting pains in joints and muscles; it may be acute or chronic, articular or muscular.
Rodent ulcer:A peculiar, slow-growing, but malignant ulcer of the face.
Sapraemia:Septic poisoning of the blood.
Sarcoma:A fleshy non-inflammatory connective tissue-growth, either round-celled or spindle­ celled.
Scald:A lesion occasioned by,a hot fluid.
Scalp:The integument covering the head.
Scarlatina:An exanthematous fever, very contagious, characterised by high temperature, a scarlet rash and a peculiar tongue with sore throat; scarlet fever.
Scarlet fever:See Scarlatina.
Scirrhus:A hard cancerous tumour, scirrhoma.
Sclerosis:A state of hardness, the progress of the hardening process especially used for that affecting the connective tissue of nerves and nervous structures.
Scrofula:Constitutional debility with tendency to inflammatory and ulcerative disease, especially of the glands, struma.
Scrofulous:Having or being of the nature of scrofula.
Scrotum:The pouch holding the testicles.
Scurvy:Scorbutus, a constitutional disease allied to purpura, due to unwholesome food, a want of fresh vegetables, and to uncleanliness.
Senility:Old age
Septic:Producing putrefaction, or pertaining to it.
Septicaemia:A diseased condition due to the absorption of septic matter by the blood.
Shock:A sudden depression of organic or vital powers, the sensation of impulse produced by the pulsation of the heart.
Sigmoid flexure:That portion of the colon between the descending portion and the rectum.
Simple:Uncompounded, unadulterated, pure.
Slough:The dead portion separating from the living in suppurative and ulcerative processes.
Softening:A form of degeneration.
Spinal cord or Marrow:The medulla spinalis, or medullary substance, contained in the spinal or vertebral column.
Spleen:A vascular organ situated in the left hypochondriac region. Its function is probably the elaboration of the blood.
Splenic:Belonging to the spleen.
Stasis:Standing still.
Stomach:The principal organ of digestion.
Stomatitis:Inflammation of the mouth .
Strangulated:Choked, applied to irreducible hernia.
Stricture:A contraction of the duct or tube, especially of the urethra.
Sub-:(In composition), denoting under, beneath, deficiency.
Sub-acute: Less acute.
Submaxillary: Under the jaw, applied to one of the salivary glands and to its vessels and a ganglion.
Suicide: 1. self-murder; 2, a person who commits self-murder.
SunstrokeIctus solis, heat stroke.
Suppression: The stoppage of discharges, especially applied to the arrest of the secretion of urine.
Suppuration:The process of the forming of pus.
Syphilis: Contagious venereal disease dependent on a distinct poison.
Tabes mesenterica:Wasting from tubercular disease of the mesenteric glands.
Temperature:The intensity of the heat or coldness of bodies, a certain degree of sensible heat denoted by the thermometer.
Tertiary syphilis:Separated by an interval of apparent health from the secondaries.
Tetanus:A disease characterised by continuous spasm of voluntary muscles, with rigidity, generally applied to lockjaw.
Thigh:The upper part of the leg.
Thoracic:Pertaining to the chest or thorax.
Throat: A term loosely used for the fauces, pharynx, larynx or outside of the neck.
Thrombosis:The formation of a thrombus in blood, and its subsequent softening and change into substance like pus.
Tongue:The chief organ of taste and speech.
Tonsilitis:Inflammation of the tonsils.
Toxaemia: Poisoned blood.
Tracheitis:Inflammation of the trachea; croup
Traumatic: Produced by a wound.
Tropho-neurosis: Disease of nutrition from nervous influence.
Tubercular: Having tubercles.
Tuberculosis: The presence of pathological tubercles in the system.
Tumour: I, a swelling or morbid enlargement; 2, a neoplastic growth.
Tympanites: Collection of air in the belly, or in the peritoneum.
Tympanitis: Inflammation of the cavity of the tympanum.
Typhlitis: Inflammation of the caecum.
Typhoid: Continued fever, with lesion of mesenteric and intestinal glands, and with eruptions, enteric fever.
Ulcer: A solution of continuity of soft parts attended with secretion of pus.
Ulceration: The process of becoming an ulcer.
Uraemia: Urine in the blood.
Urethra: The tube conveying urine from the bladder.
Urine: The fluid secreted by the kidneys.
Uterine: Pertaining to the uterus.
Uterus: The womb.
Vertebra: Each of the 33 bones of the spine.
Vesical: Pertaining to the bladder.
Vomiting: The forcible ejection of the contents of the stomach.
Vulvitis:Inflammation of the vulva.
Whooping cough: Pertussis

Acknowledgement of source of the picture used:  Wrington Cottage Hospital Ambulance, Wellcome Collection

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