Tábefyv.n. [tabefacio, Latin.] To waste; to be extenuated by disease

This definition is found in Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary, first published in 1755.  It reminds me that many words have become extinct – a lot of them having to do with fluids, humours and health.  See, for example,  Íchorousadj. [from ichor.] Sanious; thin; undigested.  This is, naturally, the result of modern medicine, which has dispensed with the theory of the humours once so intrinsic to the understanding of our human condition.  We’re now sanitized and scanned, monitored and mutated, objectified and altered.  I like the idea of our messy fluid, unbalanced selves, prone to jactitation by the waxing and waning of the moon, moods and mucus, blood and bile.



About hickson1

Art historian, professor, Italian Renaissance and Baroque specialist, Italophile
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