Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Medical eponyms

I've spent a lot of time today on a useful website called whonamedit.com,which contains details about medical eponyms---diseases named after the doctor or doctors who discovered an illness. One of my favourite jobs as a lowly medical editor (back in the day...) was working on medical eponyms. These were articles containing a case report and description of a disease, and then a biography of the doctor.

The most interesting eponym I edited was on Munchausen's syndrome. This was not strictly an eponym because the disorder was not named after the first doctor to describe the disorder but rather after the character Baron von Munchausen, by a doctor called Richard Asher. Supposedly, Baron Munchausen not only travelled by cannonball but also formed a pair of broad wings. Clever chap.

No jokes about big balls please
Eponyms are quite fascinating to me, as someone who has studied etymology (word origins) as part of my work. This site is worth browsing for a few minutes if you are ever bored ;)

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