Intended for healthcare professionals

Fillers Words to the wise

Muscling in

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 05 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1582
  1. Grant Hutchison, consultant anaesthetist
  1. Dundee

    In response to Jeff Aronson's filler about fillers (a meta-filler?), and the subsequent editorial plea for further alternatives to the word “filler,” I would like to suggest intercalation.The word has a medical pedigree in the form of intercalated discs (which is what we called the striations in skeletal muscle fibres when I was a medical student), and it also fits the bill descriptively: the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “the insertion or interjection of something additional or foreign.”

    It arrived at its current meaning after a long journey from an Indo-European root that was pronounced kal or gol, and which meant something like “to announce.” From this ancient origin, the word spread out across Europe. Northern European tongues preserve the sound and meaning in various words, including the English call.Slavic …

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