Friday, May 8, 2009

-itis: disease, inflammation of: Post II

Welcome back, aficionados of word origins! Greek and Latin roots form most of the infrastructure of English vocabulary words, including about 90% of SAT and GRE vocabulary. This web log focuses on their vast influence on English vocabulary, most recently focusing on SAT, GRE, and medical vocabulary. Last week I began to focus on the Greek root -itis: disease, inflammation of; this highly used suffix in medical vocabulary usually indicates an inflammation of a part of the body, which is found in the main stem or morpheme of the word to which the suffix -itis is appended.
Let's start this week with two very common diseases plaguing the human race, that is, arthritis and bronchitis. I remember that my beloved Brunner grandparents, Donald and Virginia, were particularly afflicted with arthritis (they both swore by copper bracelets, which they inveterately wore on their wrists), or inflammation of the joints. My father, on the other hand, besieged by the cold winters of Wisconsin in which he often worked outside in the well below sub-zero temperatures on his trout farm (Willow Springs Trout Farm), often caught bronchitis, his lungs having been compromised by smoke from the nearby paper mill, at which he also spent 35 years working.
The primary morpheme of the word arthritis comes from the Greek root word arthron: joint, article {arthro-}, word origin of numerous medical and anatomical vocabulary words, such as arthroscopic surgery, arthropathy, enarthrosis, dysarthria, and osteoarthritis. Bronchitis, on the other hand, works through the Greek root word bronkhos: throat, windpipe, and is the word origin of such medical terminology as bronchial, bronchoscope, bronchopneumonia, bronchiectasis, and tracheobronchial; this root is primarily the source of much medical and anatomical vocabulary.

Numerous and sundry pathological conditions exist that contain the Greek suffix -itis. Here is a further sampling, with a generous number of Greek roots, the prime source of all medical vocabulary, and word origin for most anatomy.

Typhlitis aka cecitis: (word origin via the Greek root typhlos: blind or Latin root caecus: blind): inflammation of a part of the large intestine called the caecum, so named because the caecum, located at the beginning of the large intestine, is essentially a "blind" pouch.

Pleurisy: (word origin via the Greek root word pleura (Gr.)—side, rib, origin of such medical, anatomical, and scientific vocabulary words as pleura, pleuropneumonia, pleurotomy, Pleurodontes, and pleurovisceral): inflammation of the pleura, or membrane that lines the lungs (note that the suffix -isy is a variant form of -itis)--pleurisy sometimes occurs as a side effect from pneumonia, although my wife contracted the ailment from breathing in too much mold from hay.

Pharyngitis: (via the Greek root word pharynx, pharyngos (Gr.)—throat, word origin of the following examples of vocabulary words from medicine, anatomy, and linguistics: pharynx, pharynges, pharyngectomy, pharyngology, pharyngocel, pharyngeal, and salpingo-pharyngeus): inflammation of the pharynx, commonly known as a sore throat.

Salpingitis: {via the Greek root word
salpinx, salping-, which means trumpet, since the anatomical structure of the fallopian (or Fallopian) tube itself suggests the shape of a trumpet...interestingly enough the Italian anatomist Gabriele Fallopio gave his name to this part of the female anatomy; an example of an eponym, which are legion in English vocabulary}: inflammation of one or both Fallopian tubes or the eustachian tube (which is also called the pharyngotympanic tube because it connects the pharynx with the middle ear).

Gastroenteritis: (via the Greek roots gaster, gastros—stomach, belly {gastro-}, and enteron (Gr.)—intestine {entero-}), hence, inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestines.

Gonarthritis: (via the Greek roots gonia: angle, corner...word origin of such English vocabulary words, especially mathematical terminology, such as octagon, trigonometry, polygon, and orthogonal...and arthron: joint, discussed above vis a vis arthritis): inflammation of the knee joint.

Laminitis: a veterinary medicine term that has to do with inflammation of an equine hoof, derived from the Latin root lamina—thin sheet of any substance, Latin word origin of laminate, laminiplantar, and laminectomy. One of the donkeys on my farm contracted laminitis (inflammation of the thin tissue surrounding the coffin bone, that which attaches the hoof to the foot of the equine), and was given copper sulfate as a treatment by my farrier (via the Latin root word ferrum: iron); this condition can be caused by parturition (birthing), infection, or excessive ingestion of certain nutrients.

Rumenitis: inflammation of the rumen of a ruminant, such as a sheep or cow (via the Latin root word rumen, ruminis: throat, gullet), roughly (no pun intended) analogous to gastroenteritis in humans.

Meningitis: inflammation of the meninges (via the Greek root word meninx, meningos: membrane), those membranes that surround the brain and the spinal cord, which are comprised of three layers, the dura mater (from the Latin words for "hard mother"); the arachnoid (via the Greek root word arachne: spider) and pia mater (from the Latin words for "soft, tender, or kind mother").

Conjunctivitis: a medical term from ophthalmology (via the Greek root word ophthalmos: eye, word origin of numerous medical and biological terms, such as ophthalmologist, exophthalmos, ophthalmitis, ophthalmia, and tetraophthalmus ); inflammation of the conjunctiva, a membrane that covers the inner layer of the eyelid and the outside of the eye itself, from the Latin root word iungo, iungere, iunxi, iunctum: to join, giving the English language numerous SAT and GRE vocabulary words, such as juncture (note that Latin "i's," if preceding a vowel, often turned to "j's" as they came from Latin into English), conjunction, disjointed, subjunctive, injunction, junto, disjunct, rejoinder, enjoin, conjoint, and subjoinder, to name but a very few.'s tough to be a human, or just a mammal!

Interested in the power of classical word origins? In Greek and Latin roots as the linguistic core of English vocabulary words? In more SAT, GRE, and medical vocabulary that comes from such Greek and Latin roots as arthron, bronkhos, pleura, pharynx, salpinx, gaster, gonia, lamina, rumen, meninx, ophthalmos, and iungo, iungere, iunxi, iunctus? All of the word roots mentioned in all my blog posts are fully fleshed out in the most comprehensive Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today; a Greek and Latin roots poster is also available, which beautifully illustrates not only the sheer power of Greek and Latin roots as they form the very semantic and morphemic structure of the English language, but also contains a prolific number of GRE and SAT vocabulary words, including a vast host of medical vocabulary. Or, if you're looking to learn vocabulary for the SAT or GRE verbal section, check out, where vocabulary is taught to you via an Adaptive Reinforcement Engine in a fun and engaging way which at the same time enhances your memory.