Naming Right: Gnostic Nomenclature vs Useful Names

  • Harvey B. Simon
    Correspondence should be addressed to Harvey B. Simon, MD, Infectious Disease Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114.
    Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass

    Health Sciences Technology Faculty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass

    Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass
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      As usual, the Bard got it right—at least when it comes to flowers. But when it comes to medicine, things are more complex. Medical language has evolved over some 2 1/2 millennia. Many terms originated with the ancient Greeks and Romans, but various cultures have enriched medical nomenclature over the years. Add the diagnoses that honor distinguished physicians of yore and the explosion of scientific knowledge during recent decades, and it is easy to see how we have arrived at our current hodgepodge of obscure and confusing terms.
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