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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The word [taphophile] arises from the Greek word [τάφος] (táfos) meaning “grave” or “sepulchre”, forming the root term [taph-]. It is completed with the suffix [(o)phile] which also arises from the Greek word [φιλία] meaning “friendship” or “affection”. A taphophile is a person who has affection for the study of graves or tombs. Probably a simpler way of describing this word is to say that a taphophile is a grave or a cemetery tourist. Our good friend Theo Dirix is a taphophile.

It must be understood that this is not a pathology, but rather personal development through the study of the meaning, markings, beauty, art, sculpture, topography, etc., of graves, tombs, tombstones, and cemeteries.

The root term [taph-] can also be found in the following words:

• Taphophilia: An attraction or liking for graves.
• Taphophobia: A pathological fear of graves and cemeteries. Also, the fear of being buried alive.
• Taphonomy: The study of decay, a subspecialty of anthropology.

Note: The links to Google Translate include an icon that will allow you to hear the pronunciation of the word.