Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

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Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

Post by JANE DOErell » Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:03 pm

There seem to be several medical terms, macrogenitosomia precox and dementia precox being most common but there are others, with "precox" where "pre-" means just that but I cannot find the origin of the "-cox".
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Re: Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:16 pm

From m-w.com:

Origin of PRECOCIOUS

Latin praecoc-, praecox early ripening, precocious, from prae- + coquere to cook — more at COOK
First Known Use: 1650
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Re: Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

Post by JANE DOErell » Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:55 pm

So how did "praecox" become "precox"? Is precox one of our latter day internet spellings? I see Google has about twice as many ghits for praecox and precox. Onelook has a few more praecox than precox. My spell checker doesn't like either.
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Re: Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:28 pm

It's due to the spelling being influenced by American usage, which tends to drop the A in AE combinations of Latin origin. For instance:

Code: Select all

       UK                       US
-----------------------------------------
Dementia praecox         Dementia precox
Encyclopaedia            Encyclopedia
Mediaeval                Medieval
Aeon                     Eon
Haemophilia              Hemophilia
Paediatrician            Pediatrician
It is my impression that these American spellings are gradually being more widely adopted in the UK too.
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Re: Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:13 am

Erik said:

It is my impression that these American spellings are gradually being more widely adopted in the UK too.
.. I am glad you said adopted and not accepted .. this is a further example of change by power and position and not by need or practicality .. America says and the world must listen .. they are being adopted simply because of the power of American printing and American dominance of websites .. being an old fuddy duddy I still use the, in my honest opinion, correct spellings with the /a/ included ..

WoZae
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Re: Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

Post by zmjezhd » Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:31 am

praecox

The spellings in Middle English were both præcox and precox. The diphthong æ /aj/ of Classical Latin soon became the e /ɛ/ of Late Latin and early Proto-Romance. There was a tendency as a result of humanism in the Renaissance to revert to Classical/etymologized spellings.

The sense in Latin was 'ripened; mature', more than pre-cooked (or præcooked).
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Re: Where does the 'cox' in the medical term 'precox' originate.

Post by JANE DOErell » Mon Sep 06, 2010 8:33 pm

Reviewing how did I miss it first time through I discovered that entering "precox" into m-w.com gives a recommendation to look at "praecox" but onelook.com does not.

Reading the replies to my queries it would seem to me that m-w.com should have "precox" as an entry shouldn't it - since this spelling seems to be primarily a US development.
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