Filler When I use a word


BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 09 February 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:355
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist
  1. Oxford

    There is much ambiguity associated with terror and terrorism. The Latin word terror came from the hypothetical Indo-European root TER, giving such words as terrible, deterrent, and perhaps turmoil. From its metathetical form, TRE, came other fearful words: the Latin tremere, giving tremble, tremendous, tremor, intrepid, and delirium tremens (first defined in 1813 by Dr Thomas Sutton as a form of delirium, not necessarily alcoholic, that was worsened by bleeding and improved by opium). Among tremulous flora and fauna are tremandra plants, with their shaking anthers, the gelatinous tremella fungi, and treron pigeons. And a vowel shift gives us tromometer, an instrument that detects earthly tremors.

    Terror as a weapon has been wielded since early times, sometimes …

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