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February 15, 2020

It’s All Greek to Me, pt. II

The word “hysterical” is derived from the Greek word for uterus, and in modern English usually means uncontrollable laughing or crying. Beginning with Hippocrates (who, ironically in this case, is credited with making medicine more evidence-based), ancient Greeks believed that a “wandering and disconnected” uterus was the cause of excessive female emotion, as well as most female emotional and physical ailments. Strange and elaborate remedies were devised to lure the roaming uterus back into place.


Simple, minimalist living is called “spartan” after ancient Sparta, whose inhabitants traditionally eschewed luxury and comfort. A courageous and disciplined person is called “spartan” after these famed qualities of ancient Spartan soldiers.


The “Stoics” in ancient Greece sought to be free from “passion” by pursuing logic, focus, and reflection, though the word is now more used for an unemotional and/or patiently enduring person.