• lumbago •
lêm-bay-go • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Sciatica, lower (lumbar) back pain caused by spinal distortion as a result of ageing such that vertebrae are touching the lumbar nerves (not muscular pain).
Notes: Smallpox, polio, and lockjaw simply fell out of use in the 1950s, but lumbago was replaced by the medical name (sciatica) for lower back pain. We of the English-speaking world seem to be getting more knowledgeable about our health. Nearly every old person came by lumbago at some point up until the 1950s. The word came with an adjective, lumbaginous ([lêm-bæ-ji-nês]).
In Play: Lumbago is a painful condition caused by changes in spine as we age: "Hilda could only sit in straight-backed chairs because of her lumbago." Over the centuries, there have been many treatments offered the public: "Llewellyn frequently traveled to Italy to take mud baths for his lumbago." Even Dr. Goodword had lumbago, but he cured it with two 4-5 minute sessions a day in the Yoga "cobra" position.
Word History: Today's Good Word was snatched from the French language, which inherited it from Late Latin lumbago "weakness of loins and lower back". Lumbago was based on Latin lumbus "hip, loin", which Latin derived from PIE lendh-/londh- "loin", source also of Sanskrit randhra "loin (of animals)", German Lende "loin, lumbar", and Icelandic lend "loin", Dutch lende "loin", and Welsh lwyn "loin". French longe "loin", Italian and Portuguese lombo "loin", and Spanish lomo "loin, back" derive from Latin lumbus. Greek somehow squeezed lagon "loin, flank" from the same PIE word and Polish came up with lędźwie "loin".
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