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#105364 - 06/11/03 07:27 AM Ptomaine
CarlAdler Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 33
Loc: Eastern North Carolina, US
I recently noted that everybody I know over the age of 55 knows the term "ptomaine poisoning" and regards it as a very common term. Two weeks ago it was one of the answers to NPR's Sunday weekly puzzle. Yet no one I know under the age of 45 as even heard of the term and that includes two nurses and a physician. I find this to be rather strange.
P.S. When I checked the spelling "ptomaine" was flagged though it is spelled corectly.


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#105365 - 06/11/03 07:32 AM Re: Ptomaine
sjm Offline
old hand

Registered: 07/19/02
Posts: 742
Loc: Akina
Well, Carl I just want to say two things: I'm ten years shy of 45,edit: and know the phrase and WELCOME BACK!


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#105366 - 06/11/03 07:51 AM Re: Ptomaine
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
ptomaine came up as a subject here last fall.. i stumbled across the word, -and while i too am shy of 55, i knew the word, and vaguely knew the meaning.. but when i looked it up, i had such delight in learning were it came from!

we can continue here, but this thread will serve as a refresher.
http://wordsmith.org/board/showthreaded.pl?Cat=&Board=words&Number=81499

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#105367 - 06/11/03 08:22 AM Re: Ptomaine
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
My father had a patient some time in the twenties who called it "pantomime poisoning".


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#105368 - 06/11/03 09:15 AM Re: Ptomaine
CarlAdler Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 33
Loc: Eastern North Carolina, US
And thank you. Glad to be back.
Carl


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#105369 - 06/11/03 09:48 AM Re: Ptomaine
CarlAdler Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 33
Loc: Eastern North Carolina, US
I thought that "ptomaine" had probably been discussed before but when I searched for it I got no results. What started this is that every Sunday morning I listen to and write down the NPR Quiz which comes on at 8:40 EDT. I then call my son-in-law and daughter and give it to them. The puzzle was to fine a "L" word for the first blank and change the "L" sound to a "T" sound to get the word for the second blank. The sentence was: By eating ____ in a Chinese restaurant you are not likely to get _____ poisoning.

When my literate son-in-law guessed at lomein and was then stumped I was surprised and when my BSRN daughter also had not heard of "ptomaine" I was really surprised. I called others, the general result was those over 55 regarded the question "Have you heard of ptomaine poisoning" as absurd, of course, they have heard of it. While those under 45 including my personal physician drew a complete blank.


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#105370 - 06/11/03 10:04 AM Re: Ptomaine
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
Reminds me of a Bloom County strip (there's probably an age thang there, too) where Bingley's dad, in a moment of utter frustration resulting form his advancing age, said, "I don't know whether to wind my watch or go blind!"

His son, all innocence and bewilderment, asks, "Dad? What does it mean, 'to wind your watch'?"


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#105371 - 06/11/03 10:43 AM Re: Ptomaine
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
a few years back, my son and i were watching The Third Man- (and just posting that, i am going to guess about half the board has never heard of the movie!- a thriller set in post war austria) and one of the characters makes a 'station to station call'-- which drew a puzzled blank from my son! i still remember when you had to schedule oversea's calls, (letters would be exchanged, to make sure the other party was home!) and even then we still opted for the cheaper station to station, rather than the more expensive person to person!

odd bits of technology hang on in movie scripts, or Curious George illustrations, and in cryptic puzzles!

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#105372 - 06/11/03 10:53 AM Re: Ptomaine
CarlAdler Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 33
Loc: Eastern North Carolina, US
But how does a very common term used in states as different as Minnesota, West Virginia and New York disappear so thoroughly in such a short period of time?


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#105373 - 06/11/03 11:31 AM Re: Ptomaine
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
how does a very common term disappear so thoroughly in such a short period of time?

When was the last reported case?

Incidentally, three of the first ten google hits are for Prefix Taxonomy Ongoing Measurement & Inter Network Experiment


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#105374 - 06/11/03 12:05 PM Re: Ptomaine
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
I think the term "ptomaine poisoning" was coined in the days before the germ theory of disease was accepted. When it could be shown that food poisonings were caused by toxins produced by Salmonella and similar bacteria, the idea that toxic protein breakdown products caused the symptoms was discared. About a hundred years ago.
The name Salmonella has been changed, I think. I'm not sure what the present name is. Vika, where are you?


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#105375 - 06/11/03 01:20 PM Re: Ptomaine
CarlAdler Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 33
Loc: Eastern North Carolina, US
>When was the last time

According to one older book I have - Never.
It asserts that ptomaines (whatever they are) are so odorous that no one could eat anything with ptomaines.


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#105376 - 06/11/03 01:44 PM Re: Ptomaine
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
But how does a very common term used in states as different as Minnesota, West Virginia and New York disappear so thoroughly in such a short period of time?


i think because of personal experiences, or close relations to some one with a personal experience.

the cliche for years was 'where were you when president kennedy was shot?'.. and while my kids had no recollections, they were aware that kennedy's shooting marked a point in most adults lives.. they understood the context.

I never made a station to station call. by the time i was grown, and had a phone of my own, direct dialing was available.. (at least on this end!) you got an operator on the other end sometimes. my son doesn't even expect to get an operator! he presumes you can call all over the world, direct dial.. and why not? you can. he and wife can call relitives in singapore, or philapeans, or austrailia, or ireland, or japan. and those far flung relitives can call them!-direct dial.

at some point. (say 45 to 50 years ago), ptomaine fell out of favor-- no one was getting it anymore, no one was dying of it.. (one, there were new names for the same types of illness, and 2 there were antibotics, so few people died when the did get sick)

but we adults had parents who still used the word-because they knew someone who had gotten it!.. and we heard their injuctions not to eat or touch something lest we get ptomaine poisoning..

but we never heard of any one really getting it.. ptomaine was a 'boogyman' something you were afraid of, but didn't know what it was. as we got older, we learned about food poisoning, and e-coli contanination, and all sorts of other fears.. (which are real enough)but we still think of ptomaine poisoning as make-believe. we have no personal experience with the ptomaine, and we don't use the expression.

There is movie (In or Out(?)) with Keven Kline, and it has a delightful scene in which a hollywood bimbo, is stranding in a small town in (Wisconson? Iowa? some middle american state) and the small motel only has dial phones..

she tries pushing the finger holes, and is totally stymied by the dial..its a little far fetched, but makes the point.

D Day passed this year, largely unmarked, last december, the seventh came an went with almost no comment.. (as a child i was often reminded what day it was on either of these days..)

i shook the hand of a man who shook the hand of John Sullivan as child.. (i had no idea who that was, or why i was supposed to be thrilled..) Shake the hand of man who shook the hand of John Sullivan was very common among people my grandparents age... now no one knows the expression at all! (except in a historical contex!)

do you remember the maine? or the rueben james?(that easier, but still obsure..) even explaining 'where's the beef' is hard!





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#105377 - 06/12/03 06:55 AM Re: Ptomaine
Tross Offline
journeyman

Registered: 05/30/03
Posts: 66
Loc: Atlanta, GA
I'm under 40 and I remember the warnings about ptomaine poisoning when I was younger. But we lived close to grandparents and great grandparents, so maybe that's why.


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#105378 - 06/12/03 08:56 AM Re: Ptomaine
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
But over 50 years ago in medical school I learned that "ptomaine poisoning" was a discredited theory, a misnomer.


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#105379 - 06/13/03 04:03 PM Ptomaine and other obsolete concepts
wofahulicodoc Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/06/01
Posts: 4820
Loc: Worcester, MA
...My late father used to refer to the digoxin [heart medicine] he was taking as "foxglove," which always brought an indulgent smile to my face. Indeed it did originally come from that plant (foxglove = Digitalis pupurea), but it's a term not widely used since Thirties or maybe the Forties, and my father's the only non-gardener I ever heard refer to it by that name since I was in medical school. I'm sure Bill knows it, but he came by it honestly; others be careful, because if you acknowledge that you recognize it you are betraying your advanced age. (Or perhaps your far-flung erudition, after all. Or maybe both!)


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#105380 - 06/13/03 07:49 PM Re: Ptomaine and other obsolete concepts
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
In a way it's remarkable that the value of foxglove was
discovered. The potency of various batches varies so much that it took years of research to be able to market a product both safe and consistently efficacious.


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#105381 - 06/14/03 06:13 AM Re: Ptomaine and other obsolete concepts
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
digoxin

One of the latest generics goes under the name of Digitek, which I find kind of interesting since it's also the name of an electronics parts distributor.


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#105382 - 06/14/03 10:52 AM Re: Ptomaine and other obsolete concepts
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
but as a herbal remedy, foxglove was used for years to treat 'dropsy'-- a condition we now recognise a congestive heart failure! It might not have always worked, but it worked often enough, well enough, that it did lead to a real treatment.

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#105383 - 06/14/03 12:29 PM Re: Ptomaine and other obsolete concepts
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Dear of troy: the point I was trying to make was that it weas lucky that besides shortness of breath,the legs of dropsy patients became enormously swollen, and the reduction in the swelling was clear evidence that the medication was working. No other botanical do has such striking effects, and so are much harder to evaluate.


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#105384 - 06/15/03 08:35 AM Re: Ptomaine and other obsolete concepts
CarlAdler Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/00
Posts: 33
Loc: Eastern North Carolina, US
I would like to thank everyone for their observations. I enjoyed them all.


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#105385 - 06/15/03 09:19 AM Re: Ptomaine and other observations
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
I enjoyed them all

Stick around. Enjoy more observations. Don't be a stranger forever.


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