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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:27 pm

• hypochondria •

Pronunciation: hai-pê-kahn-dree-ê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: 1. Melancholy, low spirits, depression. 2. (Medicine: plural of hypochondrium) The regions of either side of the abdomen just below the lower ribs. 3. The persistent conviction and complaint of illness despite all evidence to the contrary.

Notes: Hypochondria started out as a plural and the medical term referring to the upper stomach still is. In the general vocabulary, however, it is now a mass noun with no plural. A person who suffers from hypochondria, is a hypochondriac, a word which also serves as the adjective, as a hypochondriac patient.

In Play: Because the ancients considered the hypochondrium the seat of the humor causing melancholy, it has long been associated with depression: "Myrtle has been suffering from a deep hypochondria since dog dug up her rose bushes." Most often, however, it refers to someone who constantly complains of imaginary illnesses: "Dr. Bill M. High specializes in hypochondria, which keeps his overhead very low."

Word History: Today's word comes to us from Greek hypokhondria, the plural of hypokhondrion "abdomen". This noun is the neuter of adjective hypokhondrios "under the cartilage of the breastbone", a compound made up of hypo- "below, under" + khondros "lump, groats, cartilage". Khondros is based on a root that came down to English as grind, grist, grounds, and groats. The same root turns up in Latin frendere "to grind" which produced a noun frenum "bridle", on which horses ground their teeth. This noun was then 'verbalized' as refrenare "to restrain", which was borrowed by English as the verb to refrain, a kind of bridling.
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Postby Perry » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:39 am

It's funny how the first definition seems to have faded out. But then what kind of song title would, "Come to me my hypochondriac, ba-a-by" have made? :P
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Postby Bailey » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:49 am

Hypochondria is very like paranoia in one respect. It's hard to disprove, to the 'patient' the existance of something the 'patient' believes is true.

witness the headstones that read, "See I told you I was sick!"

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Postby tcward » Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:03 am

"Dr. Bill M. High specializes in hypochondria, which keeps his overhead very low."

:) That's a pun worthy of the folks at Car Talk!

I found the etymology of refrain, as in hymnody, interesting...

refrain (n.)
c.1374, from O.Fr. refrain, alteration of refrait, prop. pp. of refraindre "repeat," also "break off," from Prov. refranhar "singing of birds, refrain," from V.L. *refrangere "break off," alteration of L. refringere (see refraction). The notion is of something that causes a song to "break off" then resume. Not common before 19c.


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