DropsyBMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7387.491 (Published 01 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:491
- Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist
Dropsy, familiar to all doctors as an outdated term for a variety of conditions associated with the accumulation of fluid, is still in use. The word is an abbreviated form of the word hydropsy, perhaps because of elision with the definite article followed by metanalysis: “the hydropsy” became “th' idropsy” and then “the dropsy.” Dropsy, in Greek o υδρωψ, comes from the word for water, υδωρ (hudor), from which we get words such as hydrocele and dehydration.
In addition to υδρωψ ανα σαρκα (anasarca) and υπoσαρκα (hyposarca), extensive forms of dropsy, Hippocrates described dry dropsy, oυδρω ξηρoς (gaseous distension of the belly) and emphysematous dropsy, o υδρωψ µ∊τ' ∊µϕυσηµατων. Galen referred …