• iatrophobia •
ai-æ-trê-fo-bi-ê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Fear of doctors.
Notes: During the coronavirus epidemic is no time to be iatrophobic (the adjective). Someone who fears doctors is an iatrophobe, who behaves iatrophobically. Iatrogenic means "caused by doctors (or medicines)".
In Play: About three percent of the US population has a fear of doctors, mostly anxiety triggered by the fear of the unknown: "Iatrophobia is understandable because of the iatrogenic complications we hear about." I can see it entering the general vocabulary: "I don't suffer from iatrophobia, but I do try to avoid doctors and hospitals as much as I can."
Word History: Today's Good Word was created by combining Greek iatros "doctor" with phobia "fear". Iatros is a noun made from iatreuein "to treat, cure, heal". We find a number of English words made up of iatro-: iatrogenic "caused by a doctor", iatroculture "the culture of doctors", and iatroepidemic "large-scale problem caused by medicine or doctors" to mention a few. We do not know how iatros came to be in the Greek language. Phobia comes from phobos "fear", originally "flight", for it was derived from phobein "to frighten, make flee". This word comes from PIE bhegw- "to run", source also of Russian bežat' "to run" and begun "runner", English beck as in 'at someone's beck and call', and British English beck "a small brook". (Today's most topical Good Word was recommended by Dr. Kyu Ho Youm, Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon.)
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