Words hold time, there is a line to be followed to some historical place or another, different and various meanings attached to any particular word can be traced. Saving lists of words and their derivations has become a slight preoccupation, for instance a pending Hysterectomy has inspired me to start thinking on how I might make work around this experience but this started with the interest I had with the medical term ‘Hysterectomy’ and the obvious ‘hysteria’ links. Here is what I found;
noun, plural hysterectomies. Surgery.
- excision of the uterus.
Origin of hysterectomy
- a combining form meaning “uterus,” used in the formation of compound words:
before a vowel hyster-
- indicating the uterus hysterotomy
- hysteria hysterogenic (10), (11)
- an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.
- Psychoanalysis. a psychoneurotic disorder characterized by violent emotional outbreaks, disturbances of sensory and motor functions, and various abnormal effects due to autosuggestion.
- Psychiatry. conversion disorder." (10) (11)
It seems by dint of being a woman, ie owning a uterus I am biologically hysterical. This is a particularly interesting example of how language can be a powerful indicator of societies construction of the female and her characteristics. As Hystero is greek derivation for womb and later meanings are mental health disorders these things become inextricably linked.