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Internal medicine

Posted by R. Berg on December 01, 2008 at 17:50

In Reply to: Internal medicine posted by Kenneth J. Gallant, MD on December 01, 2008 at 09:17:

: I am an MD and have been practising for 25 years and have been keeping my ears open longer than that about the etymology of "internal medicine", the most common branch of medicine. It is the medical, not surgical, treatment of adults. But where does it come from?

I have no answers, only peripheral hints. The Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed., says "internals" refers to the interior organs; this meaning is probably archaic, and the OED gives only one citation. A second definition for "internal" as a noun is "a medicine or remedy to be taken internally." This meaning is marked as obsolete, and the first citation is dated 1694. "Internist" is labeled as U.S. usage. The first citation is 1904, Science magazine: "Many internists ('general physicians') of experience and authority." Later dictionaries may shed more light. ~rb