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Anesthesia Forever

July 2024
1min read

Dr. Gwilyn B. Lewis’s letter on “Holmes on Anesthesia” (February/March 1985) was overly optimistic about Holmes’s term going unchallenged “until the end of time.” In 1957 a number of anesthesiologists, recognizing that modern anesthesiology dealt with more than just insensibility to touch, tried to have the name changed to nothria . This might be translated as “torpor” or “sluggishness” and thus include all the states of insensibility—pre-, intra-, and post-surgical —which members of that branch of the profession induce.

The effort failed because the meaning of the Greek word nothria was shown on investigation by a classical scholar to include also “post-coital languor.” Also, the modern Greek nothria is used for stupidity and dullness. Except for that research, Holmes’s terminology might have been superseded, and “the tongues of every civilized race of mankind” might have spoken of nothria and nothrotist .

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