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nosocomephrenia

noun [uncountable]

the condition of being depressed because of a long stay in hospital

'In addition to other side effects, you can also expect to experience nosocomephrenia.'

nosocomephrenia is an extremely obscure word [which] refers to a condition that probably affects the lives of many more people than schizophrenia does

Despite first impressions, nosocomephrenia has nothing to do with nasal problems!

-phrenia is a suffix associated with disorders and illnesses of the mind, the well-known example of which is schizophrenia, a condition in which the sufferer becomes disconnected from reality and personal relationships. In contrast, nosocomephrenia is an extremely obscure word that has not entered the general vocabulary of average English speakers. Nevertheless, it refers to a condition that probably affects the lives of many more people than schizophrenia does.

Background – nosocomephrenia

The origins of this unusual word derive from the Greek word nosos, meaning 'disease'. Hence we have the related English word nosophobia, which is the fear of becoming ill. Nosography and nosology refer to the classification of diseases, with related adjectives nosographic and nosological. Countable nouns nosographer and nosologist refer to a person who classifies diseases.

The Greeks' use of nosos spawned the name for the place where they looked after people who were ill – the nosokomeion. This ancient word, meaning essentially what we today refer to as a 'hospital', inspired the useful but practically unknown term nosocomephrenia. In wider use is the related adjective nosocomial, meaning 'pertaining to hospitals'. A nosocomial disease is therefore an illness which originated in hospital.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 5th May 2003.

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to gossip or share personal information with someone …

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