Printable Version
Pronunciation: lêm-bay-go Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Lower back pain, pain in the lumbar region of the back.

Notes: I know what happened to smallpox, polio, and lockjaw, but back in the 1950s lumbago suddenly fell out of use and I don't know why. Nearly every old person came by it at some point up until the 50s. Lumbago came with an adjective, lumbaginous ([lêm--ji-nês]).

In Play: Back in the day when, according to the stage and screen, women fainted at the drop of a hat, all men came down with lumbago as they grew older. Nowadays, we just call it 'lower back pain': "MacMillan's gallstones, gout, and lumbago keep him in bed most of the day reading whatever comes to hand."

Word History: Today's Good Word was snitched from the French language, which inherited it from Late Latin lumbago "weakness of loins and lower back". This word was derived from Classical Latin lumbus "hip, loin" (usually plural), from Proto-Italic londwo- "loins", from Proto-Indo-European lendh-/londh- "loin", source also of Sanskrit randhra- "loin (of animals)", Old English lendenu "loins", German Lende "loin", and Dutch lende "loin". Modern English loin was borrowed from Old French loigne "hip, haunch, lumbar region", the French redesign of Latin lumbus.

Dr. Goodword,

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