Definition: A vitamin found in citrus fruits and green vegetables. Ascorbic acid is essential for healthy connective tissue. A severe deficiency results in scurvy.
Scurvy causes lethargy, bruising, bleeding gums, swollen legs and (if untreated) death. People would get it on long sea voyages.
An old word from mediaeval Latin—scorbutic—means ‘affected by scurvy’ or ‘of scurvy’. Basically, it is the go-to adjective for anything scurvy-related.
It was probably used a lot more frequently back then.
The reason we need that word less now is because—in 1753—a doctor named Robert Lind found that lemon juice cured/prevented scurvy.
But normal vinegar (or even lime juice) didn’t.
He realised that the difference was in the Vitamin C.
So, in 1933, that vitamin was named ‘ascorbic acid’: ‘A’ for ‘not’ and ‘scorb(ut)ic’ for ‘affected by scurvy.
Something to remember for International Talk Like a Pirate Day …