Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community, medical students, and the medical industry. We post anatomical, medical or surgical terms, their meaning and usage, as well as biographical notes on anatomists, surgeons, and researchers through the ages. Be warned that some of the images used depict human anatomical specimens.

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A Moment in History 

Martin Naboth, title page of De Sterelitate Mulierum 

Martin Naboth
(1675 – 1721)

Not much is known about this German physician and anatomist. He was born in 1675 in Calau, a town in Southern Brandenburg, Germany. He studied medicine at the University in Leipzig, receiving his doctorate in Philosophy in 1701 and his MD in 1703. Although his interests were based in chemistry, Naboth became an avid anatomist, with interest in the anatomy of the female reproductive system.

His main publication in 1707 was “De Sterilitate Mulierum” (On Sterility in Women). In this book he refers to small pearl-like transparent structures found in the uterine cervix. Believing that he had discovered the way women store eggs, he called these “ovarium novum” (new ovaries). His discovery was accepted by many and these structures came to be known as “Ovula Nabothii “. Only later were to understand these structures as cysts created by clogging of the opening of the glands found around the uterine cervix. These mucus-producing glands are known as the [cervical glands] and also as Nabothian glands. These cysts, which are common and do not represent a sign of cervical cancer, are known today as Nabothian cysts.

Naboth had only rediscovered these cysts first described in 1681 by Guillaume des Noues (1650 – 1735), although the eponym records Naboth’s name.

Naboth died in Leipzig in 1721 leaving a large anatomical collection. We have not been able to find an image of Naboth, so we are depicting the title page of his 1707 “De Sterilitate Mulierum”. If you click on the image you can see a larger depiction.

1. “Histoire de la M?decine, depuis son origine jusqu'au dix-neuvi?me si?cle” A. J. L. Jourdan ; E. F. M. Bosquillon  1815
2. “The Origin of Medical Terms” Skinner HA 1970 Hafner Publishing Co.

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Although not a medical term per se, we use the word [vernacular] constantly on this blog to refer to terms used commonly or colloquially by non-health care professionals.

Merriam-Webster’s definitions of [vernacular] are multiple, all pointing to common usage by a group:

 of, relating to, or using the language of ordinary speech rather than formal writing
 of, or relating to the common style of a particular time, place, or group
using a language or dialect native to a region or country rather than a literary, cultured, or foreign language
of, relating to, or being a nonstandard language or dialect of a place, region, or country
of, relating to, or being the normal spoken form of a language
applied to a plant or animal in the common native speech as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification

This last definition is the one that applies mostly to what we mean in this blog. While we may use the anatomical term “rectus abdominis” , most people would say “six-pack” – which is wrong on two aspects:  it is vernacular, and it is not a “six pack”, if you count them, you will see that a well-developed rectus abdominis has eight bellies, four on each side, making it really an “eight pack”!

Another one would be the vernacular term "pinky" to refer to the fifth digit of the hand. Yet another one would be the use of the vernacular term “stomach” to refer to the abdomen,  that is one of my pet peeves!