Jean-Philippe Méry, MD
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To the Editor: I read with great interest the extremely well-documented article by Adams (1) on the medicinal leech and was amused to learn that the word leech has been used previously as a sobriquet for doctor. I noticed an error in the legend of Figure 1, a lithograph by the French painter and engraver Louis Léopold Boilly (1761-1845). The French word for leech is not sangue but sangsue. This word comes from the Latin word sanguisuga (from sanguis [blood] and sugere [to suck], and is thought to have been first used by Pliny the Elder (23 to 79 AD).
Méry J. The Leech in French. Ann Intern Med. ;109:930. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-109-11-930
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1988;109(11):930.
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