Gerard's Herbal

English Glossary

 

Of obsolete words, or words used in an obsolete sense

 

Abstersion

Cleaning or scouring

Abstersive

Having a cleansing or purging nature

Adustion

Scorching or drying by heat

Ague

Malaria

Alexipharmical

Being an antidote against poisons

Allege

To advance as evidence or in argument.

Almonds in the throat

Tonsils

Ancome

A small sore or boil

Angina

Tonsilitis or swollen neck glands

Aposteme

An abscess

Argema

An ulcer on the eyeball

Astonied

Numbed

Astriction

Binding together

Banquet

A sweetmeat

Barrow

A castrated pig

Beach

Shingle, pebbles by the seashore

Bewray

To expose or reveal

Bifid

Divided into two parts

Bole Armeniac

An astringent clay from Armenia, used as an antidote and styptic.

Botch

A swelling, wen or tumour

Bray

To crush in a mortar

Buckler

A shield

Bursting

Hernia

Candia, Candy

Crete

Carinated

Having a central ridge, like the keel of a boat

Caudle

A warm drink consisting of thin gruel, mixed with wine or ale, sweetened and spiced.

Cerot of Alcanna

A mixture of wax and tallow used as a basis for ointments

Ceruse

White lead, a mixture of lead monoxide and lead carbonate

Chamfered

Grooved

Chiches

Chickpeas

Chirurgeon

A surgeon

Chirurgery

Surgery

Chives

(If not the herb of the onion family) Thread-like stamens or pistils of a flower.

Choler

Bile

Classis

A group of plants classed together; what modern botanists call a taxon

Clout

A piece of cloth

Clyster

An enema

Cod

A seed-pod

Collyrium, Collyrie

An eye-wash

Commodity

Ease of being obtained

Concocted

Digested

Courses

(Of a woman) Menstrual flow

Cousin german

A first cousin

Crambling

Twisting about while creeping along the ground

Cross Week

The sixth week after Easter, the Thursday of which is the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ

Cubit

About 18 inches or 45 centimetres

Degree

As in e.g. Galen maketh them hot in the third degree, and dry in the second degree &c.:

"Upon the subject both of simple medicines, and of compounding them, Galen wrote many treatises; and he exercised the utmost stretch of imagination in determining the properties of simples. For these properties were deduced from the four primary qualities of hot, cold, moist, and dry, and were conceived by him to exist each in four different degrees. Thus the quality of hot, for instance, was possessed by different substances in the first, second, third, or fourth degree. Chicory was believed to be cold in the first degree, and pepper to be hot in the fourth degree. By the different combinations of these qualities, in their different degrees, he supposed that all medicines operated; and he even explained the sensible qualities of certain substances, such as sour, salt, acrid, &c. as depending upon the primary qualities just mentioned. Thus saltiness, he said, originated in the principle of heat: bitterness he deduced from dryness; sourness from cold; &c."

From The Cyclopædia, Or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature by Abraham Rees (1824)

Delayed

Weakened or diluted

Discuss

To dissolve, disperse or drive away.

Dram

One eighth of an apothecary's ounce, or about 3.9 g.

Electuary

A medicine made by mixing a powdered drug with honey or thick syrup

Empiric

A quack doctor

Emplastic

Adhesive, glutinous

Falked

Curved

Falling Sickness

Epilepsy

Feculent

Polluted with filth

Felon

A sore on the skin, like a boil, but smaller

Flowers

(Of a woman) Menstrual flow

Flux

A discharge; if substance is not specified, of bloody excrements i.e. dysentery

French pox

Syphilis

Gang Week

The sixth week after Easter, the Thursday of which is the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ

Gargarise

To gargle

Gargarism

A gargle

Garum

A salty condiment prepared from fish offal; Thai fish sauce is the modern equivalent.

Good-morrow

Something trifling or unimportant

Grain

(Measure) One 480th of an apothecary's ounce, or about 65 mg.

Grim the Collier

A character in old songs, plays and nursery rhymes; he sold coal in Croydon and was involved in various adventures

Helvetian

Swiss

Hicket

Hiccups

Huckle

The hips

Imbibed

Steeped in in liquid until it has been absorbed

Impostume

An abscess

Incarnative

Promoting the growth of flesh

Jade

A worn-out horse

Joan Silver Pin

A character in Thomas Middleton's The Black Book; she was "Fair without and foul within"

Kernel

An enlarged lymph gland in the neck or groin.

Kibed

Afflicted with chilblains

King's Evil

Scrofula, an infection of the lymph nodes in the neck by the tuberculosis bacterium. It was so called because it was believed that being touched by a King would cure it.

Knop

A flower-bud

Lady Day

One of the feasts of the Virgin Mary: March 25th, the Annunciation; Aug. 15th, the Assumption; Sep. 8th, the Nativity; or Dec. 8th, the Immaculate Conception

Lask

Diarrhoea

Lentils

Freckles

Litharge of gold

A mixture of white lead (qv) and red lead (lead tetroxide)

Loafed

Having a compact head, resembling a loaf of bread.

Loam

A mixture of clay, sand and straw, used for plastering and making bricks

Loblolly

A kind of thick soup

Lohoch

A cough syrup

Lousy evil

An ailment which causes the body to be infested with great numbers of lice.

Massilia

Marseille

Massilians

People of Marseille and surrounding districts

Matrix

The womb. Sickness of the matrix = hysteria

Medullous

Pithy

Merry-gall

A sore caused by chafing of the skin

Milt

The spleen

Morphew

A scurfy or leprous skin condition, usually of the face.

Mother

The womb

Mundify

To clean a wound or sore of noxious matter.

Nail

The narrower part of a petal, which is joined to the stalk or base of the flower

Neeze

To sneeze

Nervous

(Of a leaf) Having prominent veins

Nitre

Sodium carbonate, not potassium nitrate

Oppilation

A stopping or obstruction

Ounce

The apothecary's ounce was approximately 31 grams, which is about 10% heavier than the avoirdupois ounce of 28.35 g. used today.

Overflown

Flooded

Oxycrate

Vinegar diluted with water

Oxymel

A mixture of vinegar and honey

Painful

Painstaking

Pale

A fence

Peevish

Stupid or crazy

Per accidens

Accidentally

Physic

Medicine

Physical

Medicinal

Pineapple

A pine-cone

Pointel

A pistil (or sometimes, a stamen) of a flower

Pontic

Sour and astringent

Populeon

An ointment made from Poplar buds.

Posset

A warm drink consisting of rich milk, mixed with wine or ale, sweetened and spiced.

Privy maim

An injury to the private parts

Quacksalver

A quack doctor

Quitter

Pus

Rankle

To fester, become ulcerated

Rear

(Of eggs) very lightly cooked.

Reins

Kidneys

Remove

To transplant

Rogation Week

The sixth week after Easter, the Thursday of which is the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ

Rosinniness

Resinousness

Saint Anthony's Fire

Erysipelas, a streptococcal infection causing reddish inflamed patches on the skin; or any similar ailment

Sanguine

Of, or resembling, blood; blood-coloured

Sanguinolent

Bloody

Sanguis draconis

"Dragon's blood:" the resin of the dragon tree (Dracæna draco); also used of other red juices.

Sanies

A thin pus or fluid discharge

Sanious

Oozing a thin pus or fluid discharge

Scirrhus tumour

A hard, painless tumour

Scoggin's heirs

Farts

Scruple

One twenty-fourth of an apothecary's ounce, or about 1.3 grams

Secondine

The afterbirth or placenta

Share

The groin

Siege

Excrement or excretion

Simple

A medicinal herb

Simpling

Collecting plants

Sith

Since

Sodden

Boiled

Soluble

Not constipated

Spittle

A hospital

Squinancy, squincy

Tonsilitis

Stean

A large earthenware pot with two handles

Stones

Testicles

Strangury

Slow and painful flow, or complete stoppage, of urine.

Stripe

A blow with a whip, cane, or similar weapon; the welt produced by it.

Succedaneum

A substitute

Surculous

Having or producing shoots

Surname

A nickname

Swart

Blackish or dark-coloured

Tansy

A custard pudding

Tare

The common vetch (Vicia sativa) or its seed

Temperature

Degree of "hotness" or "coldness" – see Degree above

Terms

(Of a woman) Menstrual flow

Terra Sigillata

A reddish astringent clay from Lemnos

Testern

A sixpenny piece

Tetter

An itchy skin rash

Thrum

A bunch of loose threads, or the stamens of a flower resembling such

Trochisk

A tablet or pastille

Tunned

Brewed

Tympany

Swelling of the abdomen caused by gas in the digestive tract.

Untoiled

Uncultivated

Venenate

Poisonous

Wamble

Of the belly, to seem to move about within the body, as happens with acute nausea.

Wambling

Nausea

Watchet

A light blue colour

Yard

The penis. Conduit of the yard: The urethra

Yexing

Hiccuping