Intended for healthcare professionals


When I use a word…: Oe no!

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 26 July 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:h
  1. Jeff Aronson
  1. clinical pharmacologist, Oxford

    As chairman of examiners in last year's preclinical examinations I was responsible for drafting the examiners' report. I circulated the first draft to my coexaminers. One of them asked me to change “fetus” to “foetus.”

    Fetus derives from the Latin word feto, I breed, but the spelling “foetus” has been around since at least the beginning of the seventh century. St Isidore, Archbishop of Seville, in a section entitled “De homine et partibus eius” in his Originum sive etymologiarum libri (Books of Origins or Etymologies), commonly known as the Etymologiae (published in about 620 AD), …

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