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English Glossary of Causes of Death and other Archaic Medical Terms

La Grippe


Example from an 1891 Death Certificate from West Virginia:

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Lack of Vitality


Example from an 1888 Death Certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:


Influenza [Dunglison1855]

Ladies' Fever

Syphilis, French Gout. [Farmer1905].

Lahore Sore

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis. Also called: Delhi boil.

Lake Fever

Fever produced by the exposure to malaria in the neighborhood of the northern lakes of this country. [Dunglison1874]

Laryngismus Stridulus

Sudden laryngeal spasm with a crowing inspiration and cyanosis, usually occurring in children at night. Called also false croup, spasmodic croup, pseudocroup, and laryngitis stridulosa. [Dorland].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Georgia:


Inflammation of the larynx, usually caused by a virus and characterized by hoarseness. [American Heritage].

Acute Catarrhal Laryngitis

An acute catarrhal inflammation of the larynx, characterized by a hoarse croupal cough. Cynanche Trachealis. [Thomas1907]

Chronic Laryngitis

Chronic catarrhal inflammation of the larynx. [Thomas1907]

Pseudomembranous Laryngitis

True Croup, Membranous Croup, Fribinous Laryngitis. Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the larynx, resulting in the formation of a pseudomembrane or pellicle composed of a network of fibrin, embracing in its meshesleucocytes and necrotic epithelium. [Wilson 1915].

Example from an 1886 Death Certificate from Illinois:

Spasmodic Laryngitis

Spasmodic Croup


Cynanche Trachealis; True Croup; Membraneous Croup. [American Laryngological Association 1909].

Laudable Pus

An obsolete term used when suppuration was considered unlikely to lead to pyaemia (blood poisoning) but more likely to remain localized. [CancerWEB]


A looseness; diarrhea. [Webster]


A group of diseases caused by parasitic protozoans of the genus Leishmania. It is transmitted by sand flies and are, in general, infections of the skin, mucous membranes, and certain internal organs by the parasites. Three major types of leishmaniasis occur in humans - cutaneous, mucocutaneous, and visceral. [HyperBiology].

Fact sheet from CDC
Fact sheet from WHO

American Leishmaniasis

Mucocutaneous Leishmaniasis

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

In cutaneous leishmaniasis, also known as aleppo boil, aleppo button, Baghdad boil, Baure ulcer, Delhi boil, oriental sore, and tropical sore, the parasite causes lesions on the face, arms, and legs which begin as inflamed bumps and can turn into skin ulcers that take up to two years to heal. [HyperBiology].

A sand fly-borne infection most commonly seen in countries in the Middle East, Mediterranean littoral, Africa, and South America. Both sexes and all ages can be affected. It is caused by the parasite Leishmania tropica. The infection first appears after an incubation period ranging from several weeks to several months in the form of papules on the exposed skin, followed by ulceration and scabs. Occurs in a dry and a wet form. [Whonamedit]

Mucocutaneous Leishmaniasis

In mucocutaneous leishmaniasis, also known as American leishmaniasis, Chiclero ulcer, espundia, forest yaws, and uta, the parasite invades the mucous membranes and causes ulcers in the nose, mouth, and parts of the sinuses. This can result in lesions and deformity of the face. [HyperBiology].

In mucocutaneous leishmaniasis the parasite invades the mucous membranes and causes ulcers in the nose, mouth, and parts of the sinuses. This can result in lesions and deformity of the face. [Wordnet]

Old World Leishmaniasis

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

Visceral Leishmaniasis

In visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala azar (a Hindi term meaning "black fever") or dumdum fever, the parasite invades the spleen, liver, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and skin. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, enlargement of the lymph nodes, the spleen, and the liver, dizziness, weight loss, and secondary infections such as pneumonia, and it can be fatal if left untreated. [HyperBiology]

In visceral leishmaniasis the parasite invades the spleen, liver, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and skin. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, enlargement of the lymph nodes, the spleen, and the liver, dizziness, weight loss, and secondary infections such as pneumonia, and it can be fatal if left untreated.  [Wordnet]


The ridges and furrows on the forehead and cheeks of patients with advanced lepromatous leprosy, giving a leonine appearance. [CancerWEB]


The term lepra was formerly given to various skin diseases, the leprosy of modern authors being Lepra Arabum. [CancerWEB]


A chronic, mildly contagious granulomatous disease of tropical and subtropical regions, caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae, characterized by ulcers of the skin, bone, and viscera and leading to loss of sensation, paralysis, gangrene, and deformation. Also called Hansen's disease. [Heritage]

Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health
Fact sheet from WHO

Example from a 1734 Death Record from England:

Black Leprosy

Leprosy in which the scales are livid; the size of half a dollar; and diffused over the body. [Dunglison1868]

Italian Leprosy


White Leprosy

An affection characterized by white patches, surrounded by a rose colored areola, which appears here and there on the surface; depressed in the middle; Lepra. [Dunglison1868]


A condition in which the leptomeninges are inflamed. Also called pia-arachnitis . [Medical Dictionary].

Inflammation of the pia mater and the arachnoid membrane. [Merriam-Webster].

Example from a 1907 Death Record from West Virginia:


Any morbid change in the exercise of functions or the texture of organs.  [Dunglison1868]

Lesion, Brain

see Lesion

Let Blood



Morbid drowsiness; continued or profound sleep, from which a person can scarcely be awaked. [Webster]

Example from a 1740 Death Record from England:


A disease of the blood making organs, characterized by an abnormal increase by the number of white corpuscles, together with enlargement of the spleen, lymphatics, and disease of the medullary substance of the bone. The liver or kidneys are also sometimes involved. The etiology is obscure; the moglobinization of the leucocytes does not take place, and hence the increase in untransformed white corpuscles. Anæmia, breathlessness, muscular lassitude, hemorrhages, retinal and other pains in the bones, etc., are the most frequent symptoms. [Gould 1890].

A form of cachetic anæmia, characterized by an excessive quantity of white corpuscles in the blood. It is termed splenic when the disease originates in the spleen, lymphatic when it arises from some other portion of the lymph glandular system. [Hoblyn 1900].

Example from a 1900 Death Certificate form Edinburgh, Scotland:


Literally, a white discharge. Its source is either the vagina itself, or the uterus. This affection has been also termed fluxus or flour albis; flour muliebris; sexual weakness; a weakness; and, vulgarly, the whites. [Hoblyn1855]

A discharge of white, yellowish, or greenish, viscid mucus, resulting from inflammation or irritation of the membrane lining the genital organs of the female; the whites. [Webster]


Cancer of the Blood. Malignant neoplasm of blood-forming tissues; characterized by abnormal proliferation of leukocytes. [Wordnet].

Any of various acute or chronic neoplastic diseases of the bone marrow in which unrestrained proliferation of white blood cells occurs, usually accompanied by anemia, impaired blood clotting, and enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. [American Heritage].

Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) causes a slow increase in the number of white blood cells called B cells in the bone marrow. The cancerous cells spread from the blood marrow to the blood, and can also affect the lymph nodes and other organs. CLL eventually causes the bone marrow to fail and weakens the immune system. [MedlinePlus].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Ohio:

Myelogenous Leukemia

Is cancer that starts inside bone marrow, the soft tissue inside bones that helps form blood cells. The cancer grows from cells that would normally turn into white blood cells. [MedlinePlus].

Splenomyelogenous - formed in the spleen and bone marrow. [Dorland].

  • Example from a 1930 Death Certificate from Ohio:

  • Spleno-Medullary Leukemia

    Myelogenous Leukemia.

    Splenomedullary - of or pertaining to the spleen and bone marrow. [Dorland].

    Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:


    There are sundry other fluxes of the belly, as the Lientery and Coeliac Passion, which, though less dangerous than the dysentery, yet merit consideration. These diseases generally proceed from a relaxed state of the stomach and intestines, which is sometimes so great, that the food passes through them without almost any sensible alteration; and the patient dies merely from the want of nourishment. [Buchan1785].

    A diarrhea, in which the food is discharged imperfectly digested, or with but little change. [Webster]


    Singular forms of depraved appetite are observed, especially in chlorosis, as well as during pregnancy, as chalk-eating, fondness for slate pencils. A case of a man has been related (1868), who took a pound a week, to relieve gastric irritation, which it removed immediately, and to satisfy a craving for it. [Dunglison1874].

    Abnormal hunger. [Dorland]

    Lithiasis /Calculi

    The formation of stony concretions or calculi in any part of the body, especially in the bladder and urinary passages. [Webster]

    Lingering Fever

    Linger - to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected, as if from reluctance to leave. [Random House]

    Example from an 1880 Death Certificate from West Virginia:

    Little's Disease

    A form of spastic cerebral palsy marked by spastic diplegia in which the legs are typically more severely affected than the arms; broadly : Cerebral Palsy. William John Little (1810-1894), British physician. Little was the first eminent British orthopedic surgeon. In 1861 he presented the first complete description of congenital cerebral spastic paralysis, which came to be called Little's disease and is now known to be a form of spastic cerebral palsy. [Merriam-Webster].

    spastic diplegia. A type of cerebral palsy in which there is bilateral spasticity, with the lower extremities more severely affected. Synonym: erb-charcot disease, infantile diplegia, spastic spinal paralysis, tabes spasmodica. []

    Cerebral palsy was originally called Little's Disease because the first medical records of cerebral palsy were made by English surgeon William John Little in 1843.

    Liver Disease

    Hepatopathia, Acholia.

    Example from an 1848 Death Certificate form Oswestry, Shopshire, England:
     (Disease of the Liver - Dropsy)


    Having an enlarged liver [Webster]


    An early sign of tetanus, in which the jaw is locked closed because of a tonic spasm of the muscles of mastication. Also called trismus. [Heritage].

    Example from a 1756 Death Record from England:

    Example from an 1867 Death Certificate from West Virginia:

    Locomotor Ataxia

    A late form of syphilis resulting in a hardening of the dorsal columns of the spinal cord and marked by shooting pains, emaciation, loss of muscular coordination, and disturbances of sensation and digestion. Also called tabes dorsalis. [Heritage].

    Is the inability to control one's body movements as intended. Persons afflicted with this disease may appear to walk like defective robots or otherwise move like malfunctioning machinery. It may frequently be a symptom of advanced Syphilis. It is often a symptom of Tabes dorsalis. It is caused by degeneration of posterior (dorsal) white column of spinal cord; patient can't tell where arms and legs are unless he looks, but can feel and locate hot object placed on foot. [Wikipedia].

    Example from a 1903 Death Record from Scotland:

    Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:


    A chronic disease caused by infestation of the subcutaneous connective tissue of the body with the worm Loa loa and characterized by hyperemia, exudation of fluid, and a creeping sensation in the tissues with intense itching. [Saunders1945]


    Summer Complaint


    A tender and elevated feeling, which attracts one sex to the other. Love is occasionally a cause of disease, especially of insanity. [Dunglison1855]

    The Low Fever

    Typhus Mitior in Latin. [Hooper1822]

    Low Continued Fever

    Typhoid Fever, Febricula, Little Fever. [Symptom, Nature, etc. of the Febricula or Little Fever, Manningham, 1746].

    Low Spirits



    Syphilis [Dunglison1868].

    Disease, especially of a contagious kind. Lues venerea, syphilis; called also simply lues. [CancerWEB].

    Lues Venerea

    The plague of Venus, or the venereal disease, Syphilis. [Hooper1843].

    Syphilis [Dunglison1868]


    A rheumatic pain in the loins and the small of the back. [Webster1913]

    Lung Fever

    Catarrh, pneumonia. [Dunglison1868].

    Lobar Pneumonia; Croupous Pneumonia. [The American Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1914].

    Croupous pneumonia. [Gould1916].

    Example from an 1853 Death Certificate from West Virginia:


    Wen; a tumour. [Hoblyn1900].


    Any of various chronic skin conditions characterized by ulcerative lesions that spread over the body. No longer in scientific use. [Webster].

    Example from an 1868 Death Certificate from West Virginia:

    Example from an 1885 Death Certificate from Illinois:


    Displacement or misalignment of a joint or organ. [Wordnet]


    Wolf Choak


    A tumor like enlargement of a lymph node. No longer in technical use. [American Heritage].

    Lymphoma, Hodgkin's Disease. [Merriam Webster].

    Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from New Brunswick, Canada: