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A.Word.A.Day--materia medica

Pronunciation RealAudio

materia medica (muh-TEE-ree-uh MED-i-kuh) noun

1. Substances used in preparation of medicines.

2. A branch of medical science concerned with the study of drugs, their origins, properties, preparation, administration, etc.

[From New Latin, literally, medical material.]

"My father, who qualified during the Second World War, learned from his father, who started doctoring in 1910 with the truncated and largely cosmetic materia medica of the day, the value of mist. aq. rub. This was water, coloured red and prescribed with confidence: the placebo." Michael Bywater; Trust Your Doctor; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jan 11,2003.

"If the whole of the materia medica as now used could be sunk in the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind and all the worse for the fishes." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.; 1883.

This week's theme: Words related to medicine.

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