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Jan 26, 2015
This week’s theme
Words for diseases, used metaphorically

This week’s words

Scurvy Crew Ahead
Photo(shop): Kevin Trotman

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with Anu Garg

I’ve learned that there are hospitals dedicated to treating kids, appropriately named, “Hospital for Sick Children” (1, 2, 3). Well, good to know. You don’t want to take the wrong turn and reach a “Hospital for Healthy Children”.

The hospital here in Seattle is called “Children’s Hospital” which seems rather straightforward to me, but I can see that it can lead to confusion. If a Doctors’ Hospital is named so because it’s owned or run by doctors, what does it say about a Children’s Hospital?

Who said language was made to communicate?

I hope you never have to go to a hospital, but if you do, at least your language would be richer for it. This week we’ll see five words related to diseases that are also used metaphorically.

PS: Well, this is a grim topic, so I have included an image with today’s word to lighten the mood. Can you come up with lighthearted images for the rest of the words this week? Send them to words@wordsmith.org.



adjective: Mean or contemptible.
noun: A disease caused by vitamin C deficiency, characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, bleeding under the skin, and weakness.

From Old English scurf, probably from Old Norse. Ultimately from the Indo-European root sker- (cut), which also gave us decorticate, excoriate, hardscrabble, incarnadine, scrobiculate, and caruncle. Earliest documented use: 1529.

“When a scurvy band of outlaws rides up, Jake, to his surprise and certainly theirs, eliminates them in short order.”
Peter Rainer; Daniel Craig Stars in Cowboys & Aliens; The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, Massachusetts); Jul 29, 2011.

See more usage examples of scurvy in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

Sometimes you can't see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others. -Ellen DeGeneres, comedian, TV host, actor, and writer (b. 26 Jan 1958)

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