This paper discusses the origin of medical terminologies using the Greek method. In this case, the digestive system terminologies are used to illustrate the method. Most of the medical terms in use currently fall into four major groups including:
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- Words from Greek and Latin origin word parts, for example, arthritis.
- Eponyms-these originate from the name of a scientist or physician involved in the initial identification of a certain technique or disease condition, for example, Alzheimer disease.
- Acronyms-these words originate from the first letters of the words in a phrase which can be spoken as a whole word, for example, laser.
- Modern language-names with derivation from the English language, for example, nuclear medicine scanner (Lafleur-Brooks 5).
Components of the digestive system
This system comprises a number of organs which have different functions. It runs right from the oral orifice to the anal orifice and comprises the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pylori, small intestines, large intestines, liver, spleen, gall bladder, rectum and anus.
The mouth houses the upper digestive system including the teeth, tongue and gums. This is where digestion begins; it is the point of ingestion of food. Enzymes known as salivary amylase help in digestion of starch. Once the food has been chewed, it is propelled down the esophagus by the peristalsis process.
The word “mouth” originates from a Greek word “stoma” meaning mouth.
This organ functions in the mixing of food in the mouth by turning action during chewing. It is the organ responsible for tasting food. It also assists in swallowing food. The word “tongue” originates from the Greek word “Lingua and glossa”.
These include the scissors, canines, molars and the premolars. They are fundamental in cutting, grinding and biting when chewing food. Such actions increase the surface area for enzymes to act. They also reduce the bulk of food material.
The word “tooth” originates from the Greek word “dento and odonto”, which means “to bite” or simply “toot (Margaret E. Smith 89).
This is the flesh part that holds the teeth in place. The teeth anchor here deeply via their roots. The word “gum” originates from the word “Gingival” which meant gums for the ancient Greeks.
This is the upper orifice of the belly. This opening allows food contents to pass from the mouth into the stomach. This word ‟cardia” originates from the word ‟cardi’’ which meant opening for the ancient Greeks (Margaret E. Smith 90).
This is a bag that stores food contents temporarily. The absorbed food is then transported into the body tissues via the circulatory system. In addition, it is responsible for churning of food. This was derived from the word “gastro” which in Greek meant stomach.
This includes the small intestine, large intestine and the colon. The small intestine is the part that connects the stomach with the large intestine. It is made up of the ileum, duodenum and jejunum. It is responsible for the digestion and absorption of food contents (Ann Ehrlich 76).
- The word “ileum” comes from the word “ile” which meant small intestine to the Ancient Greek.
- The word “duodenum” comes from the Greek word “duoden” which meant small intestine to Greeks. It is involved in the absorption of fats and lipids.
- The word “jejunum” comes from the word “jejun” which in Greek meant small intestine.
This is a section of the large intestine starting at the cecum to the rectum. It removes water from digested food. The remaining solid waste material called feaces passes through the rectum and exits the body via the anus. The word colon comes from the word “kolon” which meant the large intestine to the ancient Greeks.
The liver is a key and significant organ in the body being the largest organ in the body. It is located in the left medial quadrant of the abdomen. It performs many functions such as metabolism, detoxification, storage of vitamins, and synthesis of enzymes among others. In addition, the liver also stores many proteins. It is referred to as the “Hepatic System”. The word hepatic was derived from the Ancient Greek word ’’hepato” which meant the liver. (Margaret E. Smith 77)
This is a sphincter that controls the entry of food into the stomach. This sphincter opens to allow contents from the mouth into the belly. The word pylorus was derived from the word “pylor” in the ancient Greek.
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This is the lower final portion of the large intestine. It is responsible for the storage of stool temporarily awaiting excretion from the body. The word rectum was derived from the word “rekt’’ which the ancient Greeks referred to as the stool holder.
This is the terminal part of the digestive system/gastrointestinal tract. It allows the passage of stool from the body by relaxation of the anal sphincters. The word anus came from the word “prokto” which meant opening to the Ancient Greek.
Ann Ehrlich, Carol L. Schroeder. Medical Terminology for Health Professions. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Lafleur-Brooks, Myrna. Exploring Medical Language Textbook . Mosby: Mosby Incorporated, 1998. Print.
Margaret E. Smith, Dion G. Morton. The Digestive System: Systems of the Body Series. Philadelphia: Elsevier Health Sciences, 2011. Print.