Intended for healthcare professionals

Filler When I use a word

Twice blessed

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 17 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6281
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist, Oxford
  1. jeffrey.aronson{at}

Reading the obituaries of Baruj Benacerraf, a Venezuelan of Jewish descent who won the 1980 Nobel prize for describing “genetically determined structures of the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions” (as the citation put it), I reflected on his name. Baruj is a Spanish form of Baruch, a Hebrew word meaning blessed. Other similarly beatified Nobel prizewinnners are or were Baruch (“Barry”) Blumberg and (from an Arabic triliteral root cognate with Baruch) Barack Obama. Benacerraf is a patronymic (Greek πατήρ, patēr, father; ονϋμα, onuma, …

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