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Old Medical terms for use by Genealogists

Old Medical Terms for use by Genealogists


Abasia - Hysterical inability to walk or stand
Abdominal Angina - Term used to describe recurrent, severe and sudden abdominal pain in the elderly. Probably diverticular disease (diverticulosis)
Ablepsia - Blindness
Ablepsy - Blindness
Abopsia - Blindness
Abortion - Expulsion of a foetus before it is viable, i.e. Miscarriage. When this results from the actions of the doctor it is termed induced abortion or termination of pregnancy
Abortus Fever - Brucellosis
Abscess - A localized collection of pus buried in tissues, organs, or confined spaces of the body, often accompanied by swelling and inflammation and frequently caused by bacteria. See boil.
Absinthism - Form of delirium tremens (from absinthe a cheap spirit which was consumed in abundance in France)
Accoucheur - A man who acts as a midwife
Accoucheuse - A midwife
Accubation - Childbirth
Acescency - A tendency to sourness; incipient or slight acidity
Achor - Eruption on the scalp
Actinic Rays - Ultra-violet light
Acute - Describes any illness of sudden or recent onset
Acute Angina - Sore throat
Acute Indigestion - As a cause of death may mean heart attack
Acute Mania - Severe insanity
Addisonian Pernicious Anaemia (Anemia) - See pernicious anaemia
Addison's Disease - A disease characterized by severe weakness, low blood pressure, and a bronzed coloration of the skin, due to decreased secretion of cortisol from the adrenal gland. Synonyms: Morbus addisonii, bronzed skin disease.
Aegrotantem - Illness, sickness
African Fever - I suspect that this is malaria but this is based on a single case
Agglutination - To glue together or as a medical word would mean clotting of blood
Aglutition - Inability to swallow.
Agony - Literally means the violent struggle with death
Ague - Malarial or intermittent fever characterised by paroxysms (stages of chills, fever, and sweating at regularly recurring times) and followed by an interval or intermission of varying duration. Popularly, the disease was known as "fever and ague," "chill fever," "the shakes," and by names expressive of the locality in which it was prevalent--such as, "swamp fever" (in Louisiana), "Panama fever," and "Chagres fever."
Ague-cake - A form of enlargement of the spleen, resulting from the action of malaria on the system.
Ainhum - Stricture resulting from minor cuts at the base of a digit eventually resulting in amputation
Alastrim - A less virulent form of smallpox
Aleppo Boil - Cutaneous leishmaniasis
Allopath - A doctor who practices conventional or mainstream medicine rather than homeopathy
Alvine - Pertaining to the bowels
Alzheimer's Disease - Form of dementia
Amaas - Alastrim
American Plague Yellow fever
Anasarca - Generalised, massive, intractable oedema
Ancome - An ulcerous swelling or whitlow
Aneurysm - A local ballooning of a blood vessel. Usually an artery
Angina - Literally means choking. Often used for pain from the heart (angina pectoris to be absolutely correct)
Anile - Of or like an old woman; imbecile
Ankylosis - Stiffness of a joint
Anthracosis - Lung disease caused by inhalation of coal dust. A form of pneumoconiosis
Anthraw - Anthrax
Aperient - A laxative medicine or food
Aphonia - Laryngitis
Aphtha - Thrush of the mouth. Usually of infants
Aphthous Stomatitis - Simple mouth ulcers
Aplastic Anaemia - Total failure (by the bone marrow) to produce new blood cells. The cause is often unknown
Apnoea - a cessation of respiration
Apoplexy - A sudden loss of sensation and movement due to a disturbance of blood supply to the brain; a stroke or with specifying word: a haemorrhage or failure of blood supply in another organ or any other sudden rapidly fatal disease
Ascites - Abnormal collection of fluid within the abdomen. Often due to liver disease (especially secondary cancer) but can result from heart or kidney failure
Asiatic Cholera - True cholera. Used to distinguish cholera from other illnesses resembling cholera (cholera nostra or English cholera)
Asphycsia - Asphyxia
Asphycsia/ Asphicsia - Cyanotic and lack of oxygen
Asphyxia - Suffocation i.e. Lack of air or oxygen (literally means pulselessness)
Astasia - Hysterical inability to walk or stand
Asthenia - Weakness
Atavism - Heredity
Ataxia - Clumsiness
Atelectasis - Condition where lung alveoli do not contain air either because they have never been expanded or they have collapsed
Atherosclerosis - Commonly called hardening of the arteries, It is a condition that everyone gets eventually where the arteries degenerate and eventually fail to adequately supply blood
Athetosis - Writhing movements
Atrophy - Wasting away or emaciation. Usually modified e.g. Brain atrophy


Bad Blood - Syphilis
Barber's Itch - Infection of the hair follicles of the beard area
Barber's Rash - Infection of the hair follicles of the beard area
Barrel Chest - Chest deformity seen in emphysema
Barrel Fever - Vomiting or illness due to excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks
Baseborn - Illegitimate
Bay Sore - Cutaneous leishmaniasis (brazil)
Bealed - Infected
Beriberi - Vitamin b1 deficiency
Bilious Fever - Loose term for illnesses with vomiting, fever and sometimes jaundice. Could be typhoid, malaria or hepatitis
Biliousness - Acute indigestion or migraine or vomiting of bile or jaundice or other symptoms associated with liver disease
Biskra Button - Cutaneous leishmaniasis
Black ______ - Black may be used before another term to indicate that it was very severe
Black Death - Bubonic plague
Black fever - Acute infection with high temperature and dark red skin lesions and high mortality rate
Black Jaundice (Wiel's Disease) - Black jaundice is a common term for Wiel's Disease. It is quite common in northeast England near mines, farms and sewage and floats about in water. It is caused by a micro-organism and thus is a bacterial infection (of the liver) and not a virus, as in hepatitis. It is carried by rats and secreted in their urine. It is usually not fatal, in present time, to humans. It is, however, rapidly fatal to dogs and cats, who can eventually gain a resistance, but either way can pass it on.
Black Lung - Disease from breathing coal dust
Black plague - Bubonic plague
Black Pox - Black small pox
Black vomit - Vomiting old black blood due to ulcers or yellow fever
Blackwater Fever - Severe form of malaria in which the urine contains so much blood it appears black
Bladder In Throat - Diphtheria
Blood poisoning - Bacterial infection; septicemia
Bloody flux - Bloody stools
Bloody Sweat - Sweating sickness
Blue Baby - An infant with a bluish tint usually from a congenital heart defect in which venous and arterial blood are mingled
Boil - An abscess of skin or painful inflammation of the skin or a hair follicle usually caused by a staphylococcal infection. Synonym: furuncle.
Bone shave - Sciatica
Boneshaw - Sciatica (could also be bone shave)
Bowel Hive - Could be diarrhoea
Brain Fever - Meningitis
Brain Shrinkage - Probably dementia
Brain Wasting - Probably dementia
Brassfounder's Ague - Illness caused by poisoning (probably by copper) from fumes produced during the production of metals
Break Bone Fever - Dengue fever
Bright's Disease - Bright's disease is often a catch all for kidney diseases, but strictly speaking is glomerulonephritis
Brill's Disease - Typhus
Bromidism - Condition caused by over indulgence of potassium bromide, which was used as a sedative, to prevent fits and to diminish libido
Bronchial asthma - A disorder of breathing, characterised by spasm of the bronchial tubes of the lungs, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing air outward--often accompanied by coughing and a feeling of tightness in the chest.
Bronchial Catarrh - Acute bronchitis
Bronchiectasis - Dilatation of the airways. Usually due to pneumonia in childhood
Bronze John - Yellow fever
Brucellosis - Disease from drinking contaminated milk. Causes a feverish illness of variable duration and frequently depression. Goats can be the source in Malta and pigs in the USA and far east
Bubo - Inflamed, enlarged or painful gland in the groin
Bubonic Plague - Plague. An ancient illness referred to in the bible. Think the philistines made offerings of golden mice - whatever they are. Often referred to as the black death
Bule - Boil, tumour or swelling
Bulimia - Excessive appetite


Cachaemia - Any blood disease
Cachexia - Emaciation usually due to cancer or malaria
Cachexy - Malnutrition
Cacoepy - Emaciation
Cacoethes - Recurrent bad health
Cacogastric - Upset stomach
Cacospysy - Irregular pulse
Caduceus - Subject to falling sickness or epilepsy
Caisson Disease - The bends or decompression sickness. Mostly seen in divers but may be seen in workers underground.
Camp Diarrhoea - Typhus
Camp fever - Typhus; aka Camp diarrhoea
Cancer - A malignant and invasive growth or tumour. In the nineteenth century, cancerous tumours tended to ulcerate, grew constantly, and progressed to a fatal end and that there was scarcely a tissue they would not invade. Synonyms: malignant growth, carcinoma.
Cancrum otis - A severe, destructive, eroding ulcer of the cheek and lip. In the last century it was seen in delicate, ill-fed, ill-tended children between the ages of two and five. The disease was the result of poor hygiene. It was often fatal. The disease could, in a few days, lead to gangrene of the lips, cheeks, tonsils, palate, tongue, and even half the face; teeth would fall from their sockets. Synonyms: canker, water canker, noma, gangrenous stomatitis, gangrenous ulceration of the mouth.
Canine madness - Rabies, hydrophobia
Canker - An ulcerous sore of the mouth and lips, not considered fatal today. Synonym: aphthous stomatitis. See cancrum otis.
Carbuncle - A large boil or skin cancer or other tumour
Carcinomatosis - Is a cancer that has spread (metastasised) to several other places in the body
Cardiac Dilation - Enlarged heart, probably heart failure
Cardiac Insufficiency - Heart failure
Cardioptosis - Means the heart lies lower than usual. Probably not a true cause of illness
Carditis - Inflammation of the heart wall
Caries - Destruction of bone. Dental caries is tooth decay
Carminative - A medication to relieve flatulence and colic
Catalepsy - Trance like state coming on suddenly as in a fit. Probably hysterical but some cases are genuine
Catamenia - The menstrual discharge or menstruation
Cataplasm - Poultice
Cataplexy - Trance like state brought on by extreme fright (like a rabbit in car's headlamps)
Catarrh - Inflammation of a mucous membrane, especially of the air passages of the head and throat, with a free discharge. Bronchial catarrh was bronchitis; suffocative catarrh was croup; urethral catarrh was gleet; vaginal catarrh was leukorrhea; epidemic catarrh was the same as influenza. Synonyms: cold, coryza.
Catarrhal - Nose and throat discharge from cold or allergy
Catarrhal Bronchitis - Acute bronchitis
Cathartic - Laxative
Caul - The membrane surrounding a baby before it is born. May not rupture at birth and cover the baby's head (supposed to be lucky)
Cerebral Softening - Probably syphilis of the brain
Cerebritis - Inflammation of cerebrum or may indicate lead poisoning
Cerebro-Spinal Fever - Meningococcal meningitis
Chalazeon - Cyst or abscess in a gland in the eyelid
Chalkstones - Skin swellings near joints seen in gout (tophus/tophi) or rheumatoid arthritis (rheumatoid nodules)
Chicleros Ulcer - Cutaneous leishmaniasis (Mexico)
Chiggers - Tropical sand flea
Chigoes - chiggers
Chilblain - Swelling with itching and burning sensation of the extremities caused by exposure to cold
Child Bed Fever - Infection (in the mother) following birth of a child
Chill Fever - Malaria
Chills - When given as a cause of death, malaria or pneumonia
Chin cough - Whooping cough
Chiragra - Gout in the hand (literally hand pain)
Chloasma - Brownish discolouration of the skin. Mostly seen in pregnancy
Chlorosis - Anaemia. Usually simple iron deficiency but could also mean leukaemia or lymphoma
Choak - Croup
Choke-Damp - Asphyxiating gas, largely carbon dioxide, accumulated in a mine, well, etc.
Cholecystitus - Inflammation of the gall bladder
Cholelithiasis - Gall stones
Cholera - An acute, often fatal, infectious disease with profuse diarrhoea, vomiting, and cramps. Cholera spreads by faeces contaminated water and food, especially in overcrowded conditions. Rice water stools was felt to be a distinguishing feature in the past.
Cholera infantum - A common, non-contagious diarrhoea of young children, occurring in summer or autumn. It was common among the poor and in hand-fed babies. Death frequently occurred in three to five days. Synonyms: summer complaint, weaning brash, water gripes, choleric fever of children, cholera morbus.
Cholera Morbus - Illness with vomiting, abdominal cramps and elevated temperature. Could be appendicitis
Cholera Nostras - An illness resembling cholera but not cholera itself (also known as English cholera true cholera may be called Asiatic cholera)
Choleric Fever Of Children - Cholera infantum
Chorea - Any of several diseases of the nervous system, characterised by jerky movements that appear to be well co-ordinated but are performed involuntarily, chiefly of the face and extremities. Synonym: Saint Vitus' dance.
Chronic - Describes any illness that is long standing
Cicatrised - Scarred
Cinchonism - Illness resulting from prolonged use of quinine
Climacteric - Pertaining to a critical period in human life or (in females) the time after the menopause (the menopause is the first day of the last ever menstrual period) or (in males) the period when fertility and libido are in decline
Clyster - Injection, enema
Coachman's Lung - Consumption
Cocker - Pamper, indulge, coddle
Cold plague - Ague which is characterised by chills
Colic - Paroxysmal pain in the abdomen or bowels. Infantile colic is benign paroxysmal abdominal pain during the first three months of life. Colic rarely caused death. Renal colic can occur from disease in the kidney, gallstone colic from a stone in the bile duct.
Coma-Vigil - State of impaired consciousness i.e. not fully unconscious. Generally a pre-terminal event
Commotion - Concussion
Confinement - The period of labour and delivery of the infant
Congestion - An excessive or abnormal accumulation of blood or other fluid in a body part or blood vessel. In congestive fever the internal organs become gorged with blood.
Congestive chills - Malaria with diarrhoea
Congestive Fever - Malaria
Consumption - A wasting away of the body; formerly applied especially to pulmonary tuberculosis. Synonyms: marasmus (in the mid-nineteenth century), phthisis.
Contagious Pyrexia - Dysentery
Convulsions - Severe contortion of the body caused by violent, involuntary muscular contractions of the extremities, trunk, and head. See epilepsy.
Corals In Their Hands - An allusion meaning to have died in battle, Coral was felt to be a charm that could ward off ill health. There was also a legend amongst sailors that coral was the remnants of the skeleton of people lost at sea.
Cordial - Related to the heart
Cordial Decompensation - May mean heart failure, although I suspect it is a euphemism for old age.
Corruption - Infection
Coryza - Common cold
Costive - Constipated; elsewhere may mean reticent, slow, niggardly, etc
Costivenness - Constipation
Couvade - Custom in some cultures where expectant fathers experience symptoms of pregnancy and labour
Coxa - The hip
Cramp Colic - Appendicitis
Creeping Paralysis - Could be Guillain-Barré syndrome. This is a paralysis which begins in the feet and spreads upwards to the head
Cretinism - Mental retardation due to congenitally under-active thyroid. The condition is commonest when born far away from the sea as seawater contains iodine, which is essential for the thyroid gland to work. Therefore, it is commonest in Switzerland in Europe and in the UK mainly in the Lancashire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire dales. Indeed an acquired form of under-active thyroid disease due to dietary deficiency of iodine and causing swelling of the thyroid (or goitre) is often known as Derbyshire neck
Crop Sickness - Overextended stomach from over eating
Croup - Any obstructive condition of the larynx (voice box) or trachea (windpipe), characterised by a hoarse, barking cough and difficult breathing occurring chiefly in infants and children. In the early-nineteenth century it was called cynanche trachealis. The crouping noise was similar to the sound emitted by a chicken affected with the pip, which in some parts of Scotland was called roup; hence, probably, the term croup. Synonyms: roup, hives, choak, stuffing, rising of the lights.
Cuban Itch - Alastrim
Cyanosis - Dark blue skin colour from lack of oxygen in blood or poor circulation to the skin. Most noticeable in the fingers, lips and ears
Cyesis - Pregnancy
Cynanche - Diseases of throat
Cynanche Maligna - In an (elderly) adult this could be throat cancer but in a child is probably diphtheria or quinsy
Cynanche Tonsillaris - Quinsy
Cynanche Trachealis - Croup
Cystitis - Inflammation of the bladder


D.T. - Delirium tremens
Dandy Fever - Dengue
Day fever - Fever lasting one day; sweating sickness
Death from "teething" - tooth infections with inflammation and cellulitis were clearly important causes of illness and death before there was adequate dentistry.
Debility - Abnormal bodily weakness or feebleness; decay of strength. This was a term descriptive of a patient's condition and of no help in making a diagnosis. Synonym: asthenia.
Decline - Tuberculosis (may of course have the usual meaning too)
Decrepitude - Feebleness due to old age
Decubitus - Lying down (in bed)
Decubitus Ulcer - Pressure sore, bed sore
Decumbiture - The time when a sick person takes to their bed
Delhi Boil - Cutaneous leishmaniasis
Delirium Tremens - Confusion, restlessness, terror and hallucinations due to alcoholism especially during withdrawal
Dementia Praecox - Schizophrenia
Dengue - Infectious fever endemic to India and other parts of Asia, but also found in Egypt and the West Indies. Caused by a virus and transmitted by the mosquito
Dentition - Cutting (eruption) of the teeth
Deplumation - Disease or tumour of the eyelids which causes hair loss
Diary fever - A fever that lasts one day
Diathesis - Susceptibility of a person to a type of illness e.g. Bleeding diathesis \
Diphtheria - An acute infectious disease acquired by contact with an infected person or a carrier of the disease. It was usually confined to the upper respiratory tract (throat) and characterised by the formation of a tough membrane (false membrane) attached firmly to the underlying tissue that would bleed if forcibly removed. In the nineteenth century the disease was occasionally confused with scarlet fever and croup.
Distemper - Disturbed condition of the body or mind; ill health, illness; a mental or physical disorder; disease or ailment or disease usually of animals with malaise and discharge from nose and throat
Dock Fever - Yellow fever
Domestic Illness - polite way of saying mental breakdown, depression, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, or the after effects of a stroke or any illness that kept a person housebound and probably in need of nursing support.
Dropsy - Oedema (swelling), often caused by kidney or heart disease. Dropsy would be called congestive heart failure today. It is an accumulation of fluid around the heart, for a variety of complex reasons, and one treatment is administration of digitalis (foxglove leaves).
Dropsy of the Brain - Encephalitis
Dry Bellyache - Abdominal pains due to lead poisoning from medicines containing lead or other sources of lead. Was apparently common in the Caribbean from drinking "green rum" (\result of the first distillation) as lead pipes were used between the boiling coppers.
Dyscrasy - An abnormal body condition
Dysentery - A term given to a number of disorders marked by inflammation of the intestines (especially of the colon). There are two specific varieties: (1) amoebic dysentery (2) bacillary dysentery. Synonyms: flux, bloody flux, contagious pyrexia (fever), frequent griping stools.
Dysorexy - Reduced appetite
Dyspepsia - Indigestion and heartburn. Heart attack symptoms
Dysuria - Difficulty in or painful urination
Dysury - Difficulty in or painful urination


Eclampsia - A form of toxaemia (toxins--or poisons--in the blood) accompanying pregnancy. See dropsy.
Eclampsy - Symptoms of epilepsy, convulsions during labour
Ecstasy - A form of catalepsy characterised by loss of reason
Edema - Nephrosis; swelling of tissues
Edema of lungs - Congestive heart failure, a form of dropsy
Eel Thing - Erysipelas
Effluvia - Exhalations. In the mid-nineteenth century, they were called "vapours" and distinguished into the contagious effluvia, such as rubeolar (measles); marsh effluvia, such as miasmata.
Elephantiasis - Swelling of a limb caused by lymphatic obstruction. Leads to thickening of the skin (pachyderma) often used as a synonym for filariasis but may result from syphilis or recurring streptococcal infection (elephantiasis nostra)
Elephantiasis Nostra - See elephantiasis
Embolism - Obstruction of a blood vessel by a solid body (blood clot, fat globules or tumour cells) or by a bubble of air
Emesis - Vomiting
Emetic - Medicine used to induce vomiting
Emmanogogues - Medicine used to restore menstruation
Emphysema - A chronic, irreversible disease of the lungs which may be inherited (alpha 1 anti-trypsin deficiency) or also means the presence of air in a tissue where it is not normally found or is found in amounts greater than normally expected
Emphysema, pulmonary - A chronic, irreversible disease of the lungs.
Empiric - A person who practices medicine without formal training; a quack; a charlatan
Empyema - A collection of pus in any body cavity, but without qualification will be the pleural cavity i.e. The space between the lungs and the chest wall
Encephalitis - Swelling of brain; aka sleeping sickness
Endocarditis - Disease of the heart valves. Commonly due to rheumatic fever in the past
Eneuresis Nocturna - Bedwetting
English Cholera - An illness resembling cholera but not cholera itself
Enteric Fever - Typhoid fever
Enteritis - Inflammation of the bowels
Enterocolitis - Inflammation of the intestines
Enteroptoptosis - See visceroptosis
Epidemic Catarrh - Influenza
Epidemic Neuritis - Beriberi
Epilepsy - A disorder of the nervous system, characterised either by mild, episodic loss of attention or sleepiness (petit mal) or by severe convulsions with loss of consciousness (grand mal). Synonyms: falling sickness, fits.
Epistaxis - Nose bleed
Epithelioma - Malignant skin cancer that these days would be called squamous cell carcinoma. Caused by sunlight
Eructation - Belching
Erysipelas - A contagious skin disease. Synonyms: Rose, Saint Anthony's Fire (from its burning heat or, perhaps, because Saint Anthony was supposed to cure it miraculously).
Erysipeloid - Skin condition, resembling erysipelas occurring in butchers, fishmongers and cooks. Caused by the erysipelothrix of swine erysipelas
Erythaema Pernio - Chilblain
Espundia - Cutaneous leishmaniasis (brazil)
Euphoria - Inappropriate happiness or laughing. Could be due to mania or in servicemen shell-shock, battle fatigue, post engagement stress syndrome
Exanthem(a) - A rash. Acute exanthem will usually mean one of the children's infectious illnesses which have a rash (measles, rubella etc) Plural is exanthemata
Excrescence - An unnatural or disfiguring outgrowth of the skin or any unnecessary physical development
Exhaustion - I think means a lingering death. Similarly, syncope is sudden deaths. The use of both of these terms is now frowned upon as they describing a mode of death whereas the certificate should indicate a cause of death or ideally a diagnosis
Extravasated - Describes blood outside the circulation
Extravastaed blood - rupture of a blood vessel


Fainting Fits - Probably a euphemism for epilepsy
Falling sickness - Epilepsy
Fatty Liver - Cirrhosis of liver
Fatuity - Imbecility, dementia
Fauces - Area of the back of the mouth where the tonsils and adenoids are sited
Felo De Se - Suicide by one of sound mind
Felon - A whitlow or any other festering sore
Fibrinous Angina - Sore throat resembling diphtheria but not fatal
Fibrinous Bronchitis - Chronic bronchitis or possibly asthma
Fits - Sudden attack or seizure of muscle activity
Flooding - Uterine haemorrhage, possibly during childbirth
Flux - An excessive flow or discharge of any of the bodies secretions or excretions or dysentery
Flux of humour - Circulation
Foetid Bronchitis - Bronchiectasis
Foetor Oris - Bad breath
French Pox - Syphilis
Frogg - Croup
Fungus - A type of microorganism causing problems like ringworm and athlete's foot or a tumour, especially skin cancer. Fungus in a medical sense means proud tissue
Furuncle - Boil


Galloping Consumption - Pulmonary tuberculosis
Gangrene - Death and decay of tissue in a part of the body, usually a limb, due to injury, disease, or failure of blood supply. Synonym: mortification.
Gangrenous Stomatitis - Cancrum oris
Gangrenous Ulceration Of The Mouth - Cancrum oris
Gathering - A collection of pus
General Paralysis Of The Insane - Tertiary syphilis of the brain. Causes dementia.
Glandular Fever - Mononucleosis or infectious mononucleosis
Glass Pox - Alastrim
Gleet - Discharge from the urethra
Gleet - See catarrh.
Gout - any inflammation, not just in a joint or extremity, caused by the formation of crystals of oxalic acid when it accumulates in the body. It most often occurs in joints where circulation is poor, and can even cause gallstones or kidney stones. Gout is a disease caused by a build-up of urate or uric acid in the body, which crystallises out in areas without much rapid blood flow and can cause damage when, for example a toe is stubbed.
Gout Of The Stomach - Gout is a very painful form of arthritis and has the reputation of being an illness of people who consume rich food or lots of alcohol. Therefore, gout of the stomach could mean severe stomach pain after a rich meal, which would probably be a stomach ulcer
Gravel - A disease characterised by small stones which are formed in the kidneys, passed along the ureters to the bladder, and expelled with the urine. Synonym: kidney stone.
Great Pox - Syphilis
Green Fever - Anaemia (iron deficiency)
Green Sickness - Anaemia (iron deficiency)
Grip - Influenza
Gripe - Influenza
Griped - With respect to the bowels: afflicted with spasmodic pain as if by contraction or constriction
Grippe - Influenza
Grocer's itch - Skin disease caused by mites in sugar or flour
Grog Blossoms - Pimples on the nose in acne rosacea


Haematemesis - Vomiting blood
Haematuria - Bloody urine
Hammer Nose - The swollen nose of acne rosacea
Heart Dropsy - Hydropericardium
Heart sickness - Condition caused by loss of salt from body
Heat stroke - Body temperature elevates because of surrounding environment temperature and body does not perspire to reduce temperature. Coma and death result if not reversed
Hectic fever - A daily recurring fever with profound sweating, chills, and flushed appearance-- often associated with pulmonary tuberculosis or septic poisoning.
Hectic(al) Fever or hectic complaint - A daily recurring fever with profound sweating, chills, and flushed appearance often associated with pulmonary tuberculosis or septic poisoning
Hectical complaint - Recurrent fever
Hematemesis - Vomiting blood
Hematuria - Bloody urine
Hemiplegy or Hemiplegia - Paralysis of one side of body
Hip Gout - Osteomyelitis
Hippocratic Fingers - Finger clubbing. Club shaped deformity of the ends of the fingers is seen in long standing lung and heart problems
Hives - A skin eruption of smooth, slightly elevated areas on the skin which is redder or paler than the surrounding skin. Often attended by severe itching. Also called cynanche trachealis. In the mid-nineteenth century, hives was a commonly given cause of death of children three years and under. Because true hives does not kill, croup was probably the actual cause of death in those children.
Homesickness - See nostalgia
Horrors - Delirium tremens
Hospital Fever - Typhus
Hydatid Disease - Disease where cysts result from ingestion of the dog tapeworm. Cysts grow mainly in the liver and lungs, but can occur elsewhere
Hydrocephalus - Enlarged head, water on the brain
Hydropericardium - Excessive fluid in the space around the heart leading to constriction of the heart
Hydrophobia - Rabies
Hydropsy - Dropsy - dropsy is a contraction of hydropsy
Hydrothorax - Fluid within the chest. Usually will mean fluid in the space around the lungs i.e. A pleural effusion
Hypertrophic - Enlargement of organ, like the heart
Hypertrophy - Enlargement of any tissue or organ, but not due to its natural growth
Hypostrophe - A relapse of an illness
Hysteritis - Inflammation of the uterus


Ichor - Leakage of fluid from a sore or wound (originally was the blood of the ancient Greek gods)
Icterus - Jaundice
Ictus - Fit (convulsion); sudden pulsation or stroke
Ictus Solis - May mean sunstroke
Idiopathic - Means an illness where the cause is not known
Impetigo - Contagious skin disease usually of the face characterised by pustules and crusts
Inanition - Exhaustion from lack of nourishment. In the new-born, this could mean prematurity
Incubus - Nightmare; demon taking on male form to have sexual intercourse with a woman in her sleep
Infant Child - Stillborn or sudden infant death syndrome (cot death)
Infantile Paralysis - Poliomyelitis (polio)
Infection - In the early part of the last century, infections were thought to be the propagation of disease by effluvia (see above) from patients crowded together. "Miasms" were believed to be substances which could not be seen in any form--emanations not apparent to the senses. Such miasms were understood to act by infection.
Inflammation - Redness, swelling, pain, tenderness, heat, and disturbed function of an area of the body. In the last century, cause of death often was listed as inflammation of a body organ such as, brain or lung but this was purely a descriptive term and is not helpful in identifying the actual underlying disease
Insolation - Generally means to dry out using sunlight (like sun dried tomatoes) but could mean sun-stroke or heat exposure
Intermittent Fever - Illness marked by episodes of fever with return to completely normal temperature. Usually malaria
Intestinal colic - Abdominal pain due to improper diet
Intussusception - This is where one part of the bowel telescopes into the next piece of bowel causing a blockage
Ischury - Retention of urine. May be a complication of childbirth


Jail Fever - Typhus
Jaundice - Yellow discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes, due to an increase of bile pigments in the blood. Synonym: icterus.
Jiggers - chiggers
Jungle Fever - Malaria


Kaffir Pox - Alastrim
Kakke - Beriberi
Kala Azar - Visceral leishmaniasis
Kandahar Sore - Cutaneous leishmaniasis
Kidney stone - See gravel.
King's Evil - A popular name for scrofula. The name originated in the time of Edward the Confessor, with the belief that the disease could be cured by the touch of the King of England
Kink - Fit of coughing or choking
Kinkcough - Whooping cough
Kruchhusten - Whooping cough


La Grippe - Influenza
Laudable Pus - Term indicating that the discharge of pus from an infected wound is a good sign
Lead Poisoning - Causes paralysis of muscles in the limbs (often in a patchy pattern). In chronic exposure, there is anaemia and a blue line on the gums. If the amount ingested is great enough there may be colic or headache and acute or chronic encephalopathy, causing mental changes and fits. The picture may resemble porphyria (the portrayal of porphyria in the movie "Madness of King George" is accurate)
Leishmaniasis - Infection caused by a parasite transmitted by sandflies. There are two forms visceral (affecting internal organs) and cutaneous (affecting the skin) the former causes fever and enlargement of the liver, spleen and lymph nodes and the latter skin ulcers
Lepra - Leprosy
Lepto-Meningitis - inflammation of the inner covering membranes (arachnoid mata and pia mata) of the brain or spinal cord
Leucorrhoea (Leukorrhoea) - Vaginal discharge
Lineae Albicantes - Striae or marks on the abdomen often called stretch marks after pregnancy
Little's Disease - Spastic diplegia
Lockjaw - Tetanus or infectious disease affecting the muscles of the neck and jaw. Untreated, it is fatal in 8 days
Locomotor Ataxia (Ataxy) - Syphilis of the spinal cord. The modern term is tabes dorsalis
Long Sickness - Tuberculosis
Lues disease - Syphilis
Lues Venera - Any venereal disease, but probably syphilis
Lumbago - Back pain
Lung Fever - Pneumonia or tuberculosis
Lung Sickness - Tuberculosis
Lupus Pernio - Form of sarcoidosis
Lupus Vulgaris - Tuberculosis of the skin


Lying In - Time of delivery of infant
Malaria - Malaria is a widespread disease caused by a parasite in the blood. The mosquito transmits it. The mosquito lays its eggs in pools of standing water especially in those contaminated by sewage. Malaria used to be widespread and was found even in temperate areas like the UK, but improved sanitation has restricted the areas where the mosquito can breed successfully, so malaria is now only found in less sanitary areas of the world
Malignant Fever - Typhus
Malignant Purpuric Fever - Meningitis (meningococcal)
Malignant Pustule - Anthrax
Malignant Sore Throat - Diphtheria
Malta Fever - Brucellosis
Mania - Form of insanity characterised by inappropriate happiness, mental and physical restlessness and grandiose delusions
Marasmus - Malnutrition occurring in infants and young children, caused by an insufficient intake of calories or protein.
Marsh Fever - malaria
Mayer - Physician
Mediterranean Fever - Brucellosis
Melaena - Black or tarry stools. Caused by bleeding into the upper gut e.g. From a stomach ulcer
Melancholia - Severe depression
Membranous Croup - Diphtheria
Meningitis - Inflammation of the meninges (a membrane covering the brain) characterised by high fever, severe headache, and stiff neck or back muscles. Synonym: brain fever.
Menorrhagia - Excessive menstrual bleeding. Can be severe enough to cause death from blood loss
Meteorism - Flatulent distension of the abdomen with gas in the gut
Metritis - Inflammation of uterus or purulent vaginal discharge
Miasma - Poisonous vapours thought to infect the air and cause disease
Miliaria - Sweat rash or prickly heat
Milk fever - Disease from drinking contaminated milk, like undulant fever or brucellosis
Milk Leg - Thrombosis of veins in the thigh usually seen after childbirth (at one time thought to be due to excess milk being directed to the leg)
Milk Pox - Alastrim
Milk Sick - poisoning resulting from the drinking of milk produced by a cow who had eaten a plant known as white snake root
Mitral Regurgitation - Means that the mitral valve of the heart does not close properly and so leaks. This results in the heart working harder and to heart failure. The commonest causes of mitral regurgitation are rheumatic fever and high blood pressure
Mollities Ossium - Osteomalacia
Monthly Nurse - A midwife
Morbilli - Measles
Morbus - Disease
Morbus Cordis - Means no more than heart disease. Probably used by doctors when they did not know the exact cause of death but were sure it was natural causes. May sometimes mean heart failure
Morbus Gallicus - Syphilis (the French disease)
Mormal - Gangrene
Morphew - A skin eruption or the blisters of scurvy
Mortification - Used in the medical sense: gangrene, necrosis or severe infection
Mortis - Death
Myelitis - Inflammation of the spinal cord
Myocardial Degeneration - Means degeneration of heart muscle, but is often used as a euphemism for old age
Myocarditis - Inflammation of heart muscles


Natal Sore - Cutaneous leishmaniasis
Natural Causes - Means a death not from homicide, accident or suicide. Probably issued by a coroner after an inquest. As most coroners are lawyers rather than doctors, the certificates they issue tend to be a verdict rather than a diagnosis. The policy in the UK is to destroy inquest records after 30 years, although some survive. Most inquests are reported by local newspapers but I don't think they are available abroad
Natural Decay - Old age
Necrosis - Mortification of bones or tissue
Nephritis - Inflammation of the kidney
Nephrosis - Any kidney degeneration
Nepritis - Inflammation of kidneys
Nervous prostration - Extreme exhaustion from inability to control physical and mental activities
Nettle Rash (Or Nettlerash) - Urticaria or hives. Nettle is a plant found in the UK (and elsewhere I suppose) that can sting the skin and causes an allergic rash. The medical term for this is urticaria and the lay term is hives. Allergy can be very debilitating and even life threatening as in anaphylaxis
Neuralgia - Sharp and paroxysmal pain along the course of a sensory nerve
Neurasthenia - Neurasthenia means weakness of the nerves. This is not a diagnosis. Often applied to women. The term is used nowadays more as a description of a person's personality than their illness. It can be derogatory. It is a euphemism for stupid, emotional, neurotic or inadequate (women were though of thus in the past) it can also mean depression of even mental handicap. Probably used in a similar way in the past. It is a way of using a medical sounding word to describe a problem that is not an illness
Noma - Cancrum oris
Nostalgia - Homesickness, especially a severe and sometimes fatal form of melancholia but also a longing for the comforts of home or to return home. In a military setting, this is probably shell shock or battle fatigue. It resulted in may soldiers being shot for treason as their illness lead them to becoming deserters


Oedema - Fluid retention
Old Age - In this technological age, many feel that people have to have an illness to cause their death. Many death certificates show an imprecise diagnosis (myocardial degeneration, morbus cordis, etc.) As the attending doctor feels obliged to conform to this view. I think that some elderly people do in fact die simply of old age. The registrars in the UK are happy to accept old age as a cause of death. The use of the term old age or any of its euphemisms does not indicate that the attending doctor did not know the cause of death. Rather he (or she) was being honest
Organic - Indicates an illness where there is structural change i.e. A physical disease rather than a psychological one
Organic Brain Disease Or Syndrome - Dementia
Oriental Boil - Cutaneous leishmaniasis


Pachyderma - Thickening of the skin
Palsy - Paralysis or uncontrolled movement of controlled muscles. It was listed as "Cause of death"
Paludism - Malaria
Panada - Bread boiled in water to a pulp and flavoured - a food for invalids
Paralysis Agitans - Parkinson's disease
Paravariola - Alastrim
Paristhmitis - Quinsy
Paroxysm - Usually means a convulsion (fit) Paroxysmal means anything that happens suddenly or unexpectedly
Paroxysmal Fever - Malaria
Parturition - Labour or the process of childbirth (generally only used when pregnancy had reached term)
Pellegra - Nicotinic acid (a b vitamin) deficiency
Pemphigus - Skin disease of watery blisters
Penny Pots - Pimples on the nose of a heavy drinker (probably acne rosacea)
Pericarditis - Inflammation of the pericardium (a membrane surrounding the heart)
Periodic Fever - malaria
Peripneumonia - Inflammation of lungs
Peritonitis - Inflammation of the peritoneum (a membrane that surrounds the abdominal organs)
Perityphilitis - Appendicitis
Pernicious Anaemia - Anaemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. In modern times the term is actually reserved for people whose stomachs fail to produce adequate amounts of a chemical called intrinsic factor which is necessary for vitamin B12 to be absorbed (may be called Addisonian pernicious anaemia). This means that B12 injections are given. There is an increased incidence of stomach cancer in people with pernicious anaemia. Nutritional B12 deficiency is rare in the UK except in Asian immigrant women
Pertussis - Whooping cough
Pestis - Bubonic plague
Petechial Fever - Meningitis (meningococcal) or typhus
Petu Or Petun - Old terms for tobacco
Philippine Itch - Alastrim
Phlegmasia Alba Dolens - Thrombosis of veins in the thigh usually seen after childbirth. Death probably resulted from a piece of clot breaking off and moving to the lung (pulmonary embolus)
Phrenitis - Inflammation of the brain
Phthiriasis - An infestation with lice
Phthisis - Literally means a wasting disease but almost invariably will mean Pulmonary tuberculosis or any of various lung or throat affections; a severe cough; asthma
Phthisis Pneumonalis - Pulmonary TB
Phthysis - See phthisis
Pica - Abnormal craving to eat unusual things such as chalk or hair or faeces
Pigeon Chest Or Breast - Chest deformity usually seen in rickets
Pink Disease - Disease of teething infants due to mercury poisoning from teething powders
Plague - An acute febrile highly infectious disease with a high fatality rate
Plague/Black Death - Bubonic Plague
Plaque - May be used as an old term for blood platelets
Plastic Bronchitis - Chronic bronchitis or possibly asthma
Pleurisy - Inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the chest cavity. Symptoms are chills, fever, dry cough, and pain in the affected side (a stitch).
Pneumonia - Inflammation of the lungs
Podagra - Gout (literally foot pain)
Poker Back - Ankylosing spondylitis
Poliomyelitis - Polio, Potter's Asthma
Potter's Asthma - Emphysema (common in potters in the past) I have seen tuberculosis given as an interpretation, but prefer emphysema as this could be an industrial disease whereas TB depends on housing conditions
Pott's Disease - tuberculosis of the spine with destruction of the bone resulting in curvature of the spine
Pox - Usually syphilis
Pre-Eclampsia - Mild eclampsia. Symptoms are oedema, raised blood pressure and protein in the urine. If not treated could progress to eclampsia. See eclampsia
Protein Disease - Nephrotic syndrome. A once relatively common childhood kidney disease that causes the kidney to leak protein. Often a complication of streptococcal infection
Pseudosmallpox - Alastrim
Pseudovariola - Alastrim
Puerperal exhaustion - Death due to childbirth
Puerperal Fever Or Septicaemia - Infection after childbirth due to poor midwifery techniques especially antiseptic measures. Infection entered through injuries to the birth canal leading to septicaemia and often to death. Occurs within 3 weeks of childbirth
Puking fever - Milk sickness
Pulmonary Apoplexy - could be a pulmonary embolus or a severe asthma attack
Purples - Nowadays purpura. This is a rash due to spontaneous bleeding in to the skin. There are many causes. The age of the victim would be relevant. Pinhead sized bruises are called petechiae.
Putrid Fever - Typhus or diphtheria
Putrid Sore Throat - Ulceration of the tonsils or diphtheria
Pyaemia - Septicaemia
Pyelitis - Infection or disease of the renal pelvis i.e. That part of the kidney where urine collects before it passes down the ureter to the bladder
Pyrexia - See dysentery.
Pyrosis - Heartburn


Quaternary Fever - Form of malaria with peaks of fever every fourth day
Quincke's Disease - Angioneurotic oedema - severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction
Quinsy - An acute inflammation of the tonsils, often leading to an abscess. Synonyms: suppurative tonsillitis, cynanche tonsillaris, paristhmitis, sore throat.


Rachitic - Relating to rickets
Rachitic Rosary - Swelling of the joints between the ribs and the breast-bone seen in rickets
Rag-Picker's Disease - Anthrax
Railway Spine - Back injury with injury to the spinal cord (common in railway workers)
Ramollissement - Means a morbid softening of a tissue or organ
Remitting Fever - Malaria
Rheumatism - Any disorder associated with pain in joints
Rickets - Disease of skeletal system mainly due to vitamin d deficiency
Rising Of The Lights - Croup
Rodent Ulcer - Type of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma)
Rose - Erysipelas
Rose Cold - Hay fever or nasal symptoms of an allergy
Roseola - Rash seen in the secondary stage of syphilis
Rotanny fever - Child's disease
Roup - Croup
Rubella - German measles


Samoan Pox - Alastrim
Sanguinous Crust - Scab
Sarcoma - Malignant tumour similar to carcinoma but arising from connective tissue (usually bone or muscle), rather than glandular tissue. Tends to afflict younger people than carcinoma
Scarlatina - Scarlet fever. A contagious disease.
Scarlet Fever - Acute infectious fever with rash caused by haemolytic streptococcus infection in the throat
Scarlet Rash - Scarlet fever
Sciatica - Rheumatism in the hips
Scirrhous - Refers to a growth, often a carcinoma, which was hard and strong due to dense fibrous tissue
Scirrhus - A large, hard, and painless swelling, often cancer
Scorbutus - Scurvy
Scotoma - Disturbance of vision causing dizziness
Scotomy - Dizziness, nausea and dimness of sight
Screws - Rheumatism
Scrivener's Palsy - Writer's cramp
Scrofula - Primary tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands, especially those in the neck. A disease of children and young adults. Synonym: king's evil.
Scrumpox - Skin disease, impetigo
Scurvy - Lack of vitamin c. Symptoms of weakness, spongy gums and haemorrhages under skin
Senectus - Old age
Senile Decay - Old age
Septic - Infected, a condition of local or generalised invasion of the body by disease-causing germs.
Septicaemia - Blood poisoning
Sequestrum - Piece of dead bone
Serum Sickness - Anaphylaxis
Shakes - Delirium tremens or Malaria
Shaking - Chills, ague
Shaking Chills - Ague
Shaking Palsy - Parkinson's disease
Shingles - Viral disease with painful skin blisters in a band or line on the body. Caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox
Ship Fever - Typhus
Silicosis - Lung disease caused by breathing in mineral dust
Simple Angina - Sore throat
Siriasis - Inflammation of the brain due to sun exposure
Sloes - Milk sickness
Slough - Infected tissue that has died and separated from healthy tissue
Small Pox - Contagious viral disease with fever and blisters. Now eradicated. Incubation period was 7 to 14 days. Several degrees of severity (in increasing order) discrete, confluent, haemorrhagic and malignant
Softening of brain - Result of stroke or haemorrhage in the brain, with an end result of the tissue softening in that area
Sore Throat Distemper - Diphtheria or quinsy
Spanish Disease - Syphilis
Spanish Influenza - Epidemic influenza
Spasms - Sudden involuntary contraction of muscle or group of muscles,like a convulsion
Spastic - Stiffness of muscles or joints
Spina bifida - Deformity of spine
Splanchmoptosis - See visceroptosis
Splenic Fever - Anthrax in animals (other than humans)
Spotted Fever - Typhus or occasionally meningococcal meningitis
Spring Nettle - Nettle rash
Sprue - Chronic malabsorption with sore tongue, indigestion, weakness, anaemia and greasy stools
Squinancy - Quinsy
St. Anthony's fire - Also erysipelas, but named so because of affected skin areas are bright red in appearance
St. Vitus Dance - Ceaseless occurrence of rapid jerking movements performed involuntary. Complication of streptococcal infection. A pilgrimage to the shrine of St Vitus (patron saint of dancers) was supposed to cure the condition
Stitches - Pleurisy
Stomatitis - Inflammation of the mouth
Stranger's fever - Yellow fever
Strangery - Rupture
Strangury - Painful urination or may mean rupture
Strophulus - Sweat rash or prickly heat
Struma - Goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland at the front of the neck)
Stuffing - Croup
Sudor Anglicus - Sweating sickness
Suffocative Breast Pang - Angina pectoris
Suffocative Catarrh - Croup
Summer Complaint - dysentry or baby diarrhea caused by spoiled milk
Sunstroke - Uncontrolled elevation of body temperature due to environment heat. Lack of sodium in the body is a predisposing cause
Suppuration - The production of pus.
Surfeit/Surfit - Means vomiting from over eating or gluttony. If someone does not eat for a while and then eats a large meal they can become very ill and gluttony could imply obesity. I like obesity as a better explanation
Swamp sickness - Could be malaria, typhoid or encephalitis
Sweating sickness - Infectious and fatal disease common to UK in 15th century
Sycosis Barbae - Infection of the hair follicles of the beard area
Syncope - This term means loss of consciousness as in a faint. I think on death certificates it indicates a sudden death. Similarly, exhaustion is a lingering death. The use of both of these terms is now frowned upon as they describing a mode of death whereas the certificate should indicate a cause of death
Synochus - Continued fever. Term does not imply cause of the fever.


Tabes Dorsalis - Syphilis of the spinal cord
Tabes Mesenterica - Tuberculosis of lymph glands inside the abdomen. An illness of children
Teething - The entire process which results in the eruption of the teeth. Nineteenth-century medical reports stated that infants were more prone to disease at the time of teething. Symptoms were restlessness, fretfulness, convulsions, diarrhoea, and painful and swollen gums. The latter could be relieved by lancing over the protruding tooth. Often teething was reported as a cause of death in infants. Perhaps they became susceptible to infections, especially if lancing was performed without antisepsis. Another explanation of teething as a cause of death is that infants were often weaned at the time of teething; perhaps they then died from drinking contaminated milk, leading to an infection, or from malnutrition if watered-down milk was given.
Tenesmus - Painful and unsuccessful desire to defaecate
Tertian Fever - Form of malaria with peaks of fever every third day
Testaceous Powders - Medicinal powders prepared from the shells of animals
Tetanus - An infectious, often-fatal disease caused by a specific bacterium that enters the body through wounds. Causes fear of water and severe muscle spasms especially of the jaw muscles
Tetanus Neonatorum - Tetanus in the new born due to infection of the umbilical cord stump following birth in unhygienic conditions
Throat Fever - Probably diphtheria
Thrombosis - Blood clot inside blood vessel
Thrush - Candida of the mouth. Whitish spots and ulcers on the membranes of the mouth, tongue, and fauces (this is the area at the back of the mouth where the tonsils are) caused by a parasitic fungus
Tick fever - Rocky mountain spotted fever
Tinea Sycosis - Infection of the hair follicles of the beard area
Tisick - A cough
Tissick - A cough
Tokens - See purples
Tophi - Plural of tophus
Tophus - Swelling seen near joints or in cartilage (especially the external ear) in gout
Tormina - Acute wringing pains in the abdomen; colic, gripes
Toxaemia Of Pregnancy - Eclampsia (high blood pressure oedema and seizures in pregnancy)
Trench Fever - Typhus
Trench Mouth - Painful ulcers found along gum line, caused by poor nutrition and poor hygiene
Trismus - Tetanus. Strictly speaking this is the inability to open the mouth because of spasm of the chewing muscles i.e. It is a symptom of tetanus
Trismus nascentium - A form of tetanus seen only in infants, almost invariably in the first five days of life.
Tumid - Swollen, inflated, protuberant, bulging
Tussis Convulsiva - Whooping cough
Typhilitis - Appendicitis
Typhoid fever - An infectious, often-fatal disease, usually occurring in the summer months--characterised by intestinal inflammation and ulceration. The name came from the disease's similarity to typhus (see below). Synonym: enteric fever.
Typhus - An acute, infectious disease transmitted by lice and fleas. The epidemic or classic form is louse borne; the endemic or murine is flea borne. Synonyms: typhus fever, malignant fever (in the 1850s), jail fever, hospital fever, ship fever, putrid fever, brain fever, bilious fever, spotted fever, petechial fever, camp fever.


Undulant Fever - Brucellosis
Uta - Cutaneous leishmaniasis (Peruvian Andes)


Vaginal Catarrh - Vaginal discharge
Valetudinary - Tendency to be in poor health or to be overly concerned about one's health
Varicella - Chickenpox
Varicocoele (Varicocele) - A varicose vein of the vein of the testicle.
Variola - Smallpox
Variola Minor - Alastrim
Variola-Alastrim - Alastrim
Venesection - Bleeding (used as a treatment)
Viper's Dance - St. Vitus dance, chorea
Viscera - Plural form of viscus i.e. Internal organs
Visceroptosis - Meaning is downward displacement of an internal organ due to weakness of the abdominal muscles and internal ligaments. Many symptoms were attributed to this problem but I cannot explain how this relates to illness as it is not a sign of disease that I am aware of
Viscus - Internal organ
Visitation Of God - Probably means old age or natural causes. Visitation of God might imply punishment by God.
Vulnus - A wound


War Nephritis - Acute nephritis
Water Canker - Cancrum oris
Water Gripes - Cholera infantum
Water On (The) Brain - Hydrocephalus in an infant or a child or in someone older could be any brain disease.
Weaning Brash - Cholera infantum (brash means heartburn i.e. Belching of stomach acid)
White Death - I think this may be diphtheria.
White Fever - Tuberculosis
White Leg - Thrombosis of veins in the thigh. Usually seen after childbirth
White Pox - Alastrim
White Swelling - Tuberculosis of the bone
White Throat - Diphtheria
Whitlow - Infection beginning at the edge of a nail and spreading in a line up the limb; a paronychia
Winter Fever - Pneumonia
Womb Fever - Infection of the uterus
Woody Tongue - Name given to actinomycosis in cattle and pigs
Wool-Sorter's Disease - Anthrax
Worm Fever - I think worm fever is a term that may indicate the ignorance (or naivety to be kind) of doctors in the past. Of the three common types of worm (thread, round and in the past tape) none would cause what anyone today would consider an illness. It is likely that the cause of death was an unrecognised fever (possibly one where there would be diarrhoea like typhoid and worms would be passed) in someone who just happened to have worms.
Worm Fit - Convulsions associated with teething, worms, elevated temperature or diarrhoea


Yellow Fever - An acute, often fatal, infectious disease of warm climates caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes
Yellow Jacket - Yellow fever
Yellow Landers - Jaundice

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