Irvine Loudon in BMJ Vol 317, 31 OCT 1998 in an article titled Nosocomial
under the heading Words, is attempting an explanation of the origins of
the word "nosocomial" in the English Medical literature. The word has been
used mainly to describe in-hospital infections ie nosocomial infections.
Without having to use any references from french, english-french, greek-
english or other dictionaries I
will simply say that the word nosocomial comes from the greek word
nosocomeion which means hospital in Greek since the time of Hippocrates.
The word nosocomeion in turn comes from conjunction of the greek words
nosos = disease and comeo = host, treat.
The modern debate (if the issue is raised in realistic terms) regarding
the thousands of words the english medical and scientific language borrows
from greek and latin should be whether newly introduced terms into the
english medical jargon should be somewhat more simplified and more akin to
the current english language. Greek and latin are no longer included in
the secondary education in Britain after all.
I must confess however that it helped me an awful lot to go on with
my medical training in Great Britain for five years the fact that my
mother tongue is Greek.
Xenophon S. Roussis
K. Y. Ionias, "G. Genimatas" Hospital
Address: 49 Eratyras Street
Competing interests: No competing interests