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Antique and Obscure Words for Students in the History of Health and Medicine

The words we use reflect our society and come in and out of usage as our society changes. The words in these lists have largely faded out of current use but they fill the older publications.


A medical orderly in the Commonwealth military. Named after the popular salve, Zambuk (Commonwealth military, 20th century).

Zaufal's sign
The concave nose is a common indication of syphilis. It is named after Emanuel Zaufal, (1833-1910), the Austrian rhinologist who made the association. Also called saddle nose.

Former term for herpes zoster or shingles. A Latin term derived from the Greek meaning belt. Shingles can present as a rash around a person's waist.

Greek word meaning belt. Herpes zoster is the medical term for shingles which presents as a rash around a person's waist.