Intended for healthcare professionals

Fillers Words to the wise

The white album

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 19 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:797
  1. Grant Hutchison, consultant anaesthetist
  1. Dundee

    Candida albicans, the organism that causes thrush, rather oversells itself by deriving its name from two words that both mean “white.”

    The Latin candidus referred to a bright, almost glistening white. It is the origin of such luminous words as incandescent and candle. Some etymologists also make a link to the word incendiary, tracing it to the Latin incandere, “to cause to glow.” This burning link can be extended to incense, used either as a verb (when tempers are ignited) or as a noun (when an aromatic resin is burned in a censer).

    The association of whiteness with purity and simplicity gives us the word candid. A Roman citizen seeking election to the post of magistrate would exploit this mental connection by …

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