Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

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Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Jul 04, 2005 10:58 am

Spiritus: wrote:
Erik, I am wondering; what do you believe makes "Rx" a non-intuitive abbreviation?
Your most recent posting reads too much into my description of the Rx symbol as non-intuitive. All I meant was that to an English speaker, the symbol has no clear morphological connection with the word 'prescription' (for instance, the symbol resembles an abbreviation beginning with R, whereas 'prescription' begins with P).

That discrepancy, and the absence of an X in 'prescription', would be fairly apparent (and hence counter-intuitive) to most people; at least, that is my intuitive thought.
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Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

Post by NuSigF » Tue Jul 05, 2005 5:03 pm

While the Egyptian Eye of Horus legend and the Latin word recipere are commonly accredited for the Rx, my 9th grade Latin teacher, Fr. Keating (OSA), said that it was a common misnomer that "perscription" was signified by the letters "R" and "x". The letters were actually "P" and "x", but because the "x" was placed so close to the "P", it looked like "R" and "x"... so Px vs. Rx.

That being said, I don't remember what the "P" or the "x" signified... hey, it was 9th grade in a Catholic school. C'mon, how much do you remember? There also might've been a correlation to the medical term "stat" as well. I know that's Latin, but my memory being what it is... Fr. Keating could've been talking about medical terms that day and those were the two that stuck.

The point being, don't ask a pharmacist or a doctor about the origins of a Latin word, go ask a Catholic priest.
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Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:17 pm

You know, Kyong An, that is not the point. The point is that one needs to take into consideration all the available evidence that is relevant, examine it, and make an assessment of both its plausibility and the reliability of its source. By this I mean asking such questions as "How is this person qualified to know the truth of what they are stating? Do they have any conflicts of interest that might induce them to exaggerate their claim or to suppress any facts which contradict it? What are the documentary sources they are relying on, and how reliable are they?".

In this instance, it is perverse for you to cling to your belief in the statement of a teacher you had in 9th grade -- however much you may have respected him personally -- in the face of all the evidence that contradicts his explanation, especially since you can't even recall all the details. It is not enough to accept without question an opinion or purported fact from someone who, on the surface, appears to be reliable; one must remain sceptical and be willing to query not only those who are obviously misguided or misrepresenting the facts, but also the views of those in authority or majority opinion. Otherwise you run the distinct risk of being one of those many who are simply "like cushions bearing the imprint of the last arse that sat upon them."
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Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

Post by NuSigF » Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:21 pm

Huh, I was responding to your initial inquiry of "In the USA and Canada, and possibly elsewhere, the word 'prescription' is often abbreviated to Rx when used in a medical context; the x frequently appears as a lower-case subscript after the upper-case R. What is the origin of this non-intuitive abbreviation?". I was providing a path of discussion and potential insight that had not been discussed. Additionally, I'll take an unrespected Latin teacher's teachings over the blatherings of anyone on a newsgroup without knowing their individual backgrounds or qualifications.

Furthermore, while not calling anyone an idiot directly, you did a fair job of attacking the messenger over the message. All the "evidence" listed prior in this was just conjecture, unless someone said it outright and I missed it. The plausibility of any conjecture doesn't make it true, regardless of how many lemmings follow or how many conjectures exist.

I <i>thought</t> the point of this discussion thread was to bring to light all the possibilities of Rx. I'm astounded that my recollections, even lacking evidence, would be so easily dismissed. I offered my thoughts to potentially spark some conversation that wasn't following the herd of pre-existing conclusions and data.

I came to this forum expecting intelligent reading, offering of opinions and asking questions, not to be attacked for some recollection that I thought might be of interest.
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Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Jul 05, 2005 11:44 pm

I can see that I ought to deeply apologise to you, Kyong An, for what must seem to you to be my lamentably poor judgment in considering that the credibility of the positions taken by professional researchers and specialists in the field (what you would call their 'blatherings') somewhat exceeds the generally excellent qualities of the unsubstantiated, scarcely-recalled musings of your deplorably unrespected 9th grade teacher.

To clarify, I was not "attacking the messenger" -- I was simply being sceptical about the explanatory value of your muzzily amnesiac message. If you interpreted my scepticism otherwise, I'm very sorry for your confusion.
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Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

Post by spiritus » Thu Jul 07, 2005 1:41 am

Erik,

Your intuitive abilities would appear to be in top form...
You know, Kyong An, that is not the point. The point is that one needs to take into consideration all the available evidence that is relevant, examine it, and make an assessment of both its plausibility and the reliability of its source.
...and equaled only by your intuitive choice and use of metaphor ( note bold text below ).
...be willing to query not only those who are obviously misguided or misrepresenting the facts, but also the views of those in authority or majority opinion. Otherwise you run the distinct risk of being one of those many who are simply "like cushions bearing the imprint of the last arse that sat upon them."
NuSigF, in response to Erik's post, you wrote:
Furthermore, while not calling anyone an idiot directly, you did a fair job of attacking the messenger over the message.
If I recall correctly; rulers of the early Roman Monarchy, prior to the Republic and Empire, are believed to have engaged in the charmingly quaint practice of "killing the messenger". This is not the same as "attacking the messenger". Thus, it might be said; you got off lightly.

Personally, I feel the practice may have had some merit. If nothing else, it did give one ( the messenger ) pause, to seriously consider the admonition: "Think before you speak". {;-D
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Rx as an abbreviation for 'prescription'

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Jul 07, 2005 4:21 am

Yes, what is Wordwizard if not a seat of knowledge? ;-)
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