Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Etymology of Chicken Pox
There are several theories regarding the origin of the term chicken pox. It is often stated to be a modification of chickpeas (based on resemblance of the vesicles to chickpeas), or due to the rash resembling chicken pecks. Other theories include the designation chicken for a child (i.e., literally 'child pox') or a corruption of itching-pox. Samuel Johnson explained the designation as "from its being of no very great danger."
I also found this paper from the Lancet in 1896 which I thought was interesting.
ON THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF SOME DISEASE-NAMES.
William Sykes, M.D. DUNELM., F.S.A. (A CORRESPONDENT OF THE NEW ENGLISH DICTIONARY.)
All disease-names are only labels by means of which the maladies themselves can be identified, discriminated, and classified, and those names are the best which are simple, distinctive, and express no theories of causation. It is the folk names which most often meet these requirements, and therefore deserve the widest adoption by us in the future.