A medical laboratory technician picks up from a fridge a bucket with suspected monkeypox samples to be tested at a microbiology laboratory. Photo: Getty Images
A medical laboratory technician picks up from a fridge a bucket with suspected monkeypox samples to be tested at a microbiology laboratory. Photo: Getty Images
Lisa Lim
Opinion

Opinion

Language Matters by Lisa Lim

Where the word pox comes from, its derivatives monkeypox, chickenpox and smallpox, and why syphilis was called the pox

  • Pox is a plural form of the Middle English pock, meaning a pustule, blister, ulcer or vesicle. Pox was another name for syphilis, also called the great pox
  • Smallpox was so named to distinguish it from the great pox. Monkeypox, although first found in lab monkeys shipped from Singapore, resides in African rodents

A medical laboratory technician picks up from a fridge a bucket with suspected monkeypox samples to be tested at a microbiology laboratory. Photo: Getty Images
A medical laboratory technician picks up from a fridge a bucket with suspected monkeypox samples to be tested at a microbiology laboratory. Photo: Getty Images
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