Word(s) of the Day: Ascorbic acid

//Word(s) of the Day: Ascorbic acid

Word(s) of the Day: Ascorbic acid

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 …



By |2017-05-19T08:20:30+00:00September 28th, 2015|WOTD|0 Comments

About the Author:

Minnie has a Master of Public and International Law degree, and specialises in writing for vulnerable audiences—making complex policy meaningful to those who need it most.

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