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English Glossary of Causes of Death and other Archaic Medical Terms

Pachyderma

Thickening of the skin (usually unilateral on an extremity) caused by congenital enlargement of lymph vessel and lymph vessel obstruction. [Wordnet]

Pachymeningitis

Inflammation of the Dura mater. [Dunglison1874].

Example from a 1912 Death Certificate from New Zealand:

datrophia

Atrophy of children. Tabes mesenterica.

Example from an 1898 death certificate from New York:

Palsy

The palsy is a loss or diminution of sense or motion, or of both, in one or more parts of the body. Of all the affections called nervous, this is the most suddenly fatal. It is more or less dangerous, according to the importance of the part affected. A palsy of the heart, lungs, or any part necessary to life, is mortal. When it affects the stomach, the intestines, or the bladder, it is highly dangerous. If the face be affected, the case is bad, as it shows that the disease proceeds from the brain. When the part affected feels cold, is insensible, or wastes away, or when the judgment and memory begin to fail, there is small hope of a cure. [Buchan1785].

Example from a 1779 Death Record from England:

Example from an 1869 death certificate from West Virginia:

Bell's Palsy

A unilateral facial muscle paralysis of sudden onset, resulting from trauma, compression, or infection of the facial nerve and characterized by muscle weakness and a distorted facial expression. [Heritage]

Creeping Palsy

A serious neurologic disease that results from the progressive degeneration of the motor neurons. [CancerWEB]

Shaking Palsy

Paralysis Agitans; Parkinson's Disease.

Paludal Fever

Malarial Fever

Pappataci Fever

Sandfly Fever

Paralysis

Palsy. A disease characterized by loss or great diminution of the power of voluntary motion, affecting any part of the body. [Thomas1875].

Abolition of function, whether complete or partial; esp., the loss of the power of voluntary motion, with or without that of sensation, in any part of the body; palsy. [Webster1913].

Loss or impairment of the ability to move a body part, usually as a result of damage to its nerve supply. [Heritage]

 "paralysis" was first used: 1525. [Webster]

Example from an 1857 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from a 1922 Kansas Death Certificate:

Paralysis Agitans

Parkinson's Disease.

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Creeping Paralysis

Locomotor Ataxia. [American Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1914].

Example from an 1897 Death Record from Michigan:

Erb's Paralysis

Erb's spastic paraplegia. , Erb's syphilitic spastic paraplegia an uncommon form of meningovascular syphilis marked by progressive spasticity and weakness of the legs, paraplegia, muscular atrophy, paresthesia, increased knee and ankle reflexes, and incontinence. Called also cerebrospinal syphilis, Erb's paralysis, Erb-Charcot disease, and syphilitic paraplegia. [Dorland]

Example from a 1929 Ohio Death Certificate:

Paralysis of the Insane

General paralysis of the insane. [Dunglison1874]

General Paralysis of the Insane

Insanity combines with progressive paralysis of the muscular system; an incurable affection, which seems to increase as the powers of the mind diminish. It is said to depend on hypertrophy of the connective tissue of the minute vessels of the pia mater and cortical substance of the brain. [Dunglison1874].

 A gradual progressive disease of the brain and nervous system in which there are ataxy and paresis usually following a definite order and course of development, which are particularly marked in speech and locomotion. There are sensory disorders and mental symptoms, at first of exaltation of feeling or expansive delirium, but invariably tending to complete dementia. There are organic changes in the encephalon and its membranes, and sometimes in the spinal cord and its membranes and in some sympathetic ganglia. [Appleton1904].

General paresis, also known as general paralysis of the insane or paralytic dementia, is a neuropsychiatric disorder affecting the brain and central nervous system, caused by syphilis infection. It was originally considered a psychiatric disorder when it was first scientifically identified around the nineteenth century, as the patient usually presented with psychotic symptoms of sudden and often dramatic onset. [Wikipedia].

Example from a 1903 death record from Scotland:

Example from a 1925 Death Certificate from Louisiana:

Infantile Paralysis

Old synonym for polio. [CancerWEB].

Example from a 1928 death certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:

Progressive Bulbar Paralysis

The progressive atrophy and paralysis of the muscles of the tongue, lips, palate, pharynx, and larynx due to atrophic degeneration of the innervating neurons. Also called bulbar paralysis, Duchenne's disease, Erb's disease. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Shaking Paralysis

Paralysis Agitans; Parkinson's Disease.

Example from an 1897 Death Record from Michigan:

Wasting Paralysis

Poliomyelitis. [American Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1914].

Paralytic Stroke

A sudden attack of encephalo-spinal paralysis. [Dunglison 1846].

Example from an 1890 Death Record from Michigan:

Paraphimosis

A condition in which the prepuce, after being retracted behind the glans penis, is constricted there, and can not be brought forward into place again. [Webster1913]

Paraphrenitis

Inflammation of the diaphragm.

Paraplegia

Complete paralysis of the lower half of the body including both legs, usually caused by damage to the spinal cord. [Heritage]

Paresis

Incomplete paralysis, affecting motion but not sensation. [Webster]

General Paresis of the Insane

The insanity caused by late-stage syphilis was once one of the more common forms of dementia; this was known as the general paresis of the insane. [Webster]

Paristhmitis

Cynanche Tonsillaris, Quinsy.

Parkinson's Disease

A progressive nervous disease occurring most often after the age of 50, associated with the destruction of brain cells that produce dopamine and characterized by muscular tremor, slowing of movement, partial facial paralysis, peculiarity of gait and posture, and weakness. Also called paralysis agitans, shaking palsy. [Heritage]

Paronychia

The ancients gave this name to an inflammatory tumour, seated near the nail. [Dunglison1846].

Inflammation and formation of an abscess under or beneath the finger-nails. Applied also to inflammation of the flexor tendons and sheaths of the fingers. Whitlow is the popular name for these affections. [Gould1890].

Parotiditis

Cynanche Parotidea

Parotitis

Inflammation of the parotid gland, popularly termed the mumps. [Thomas1875]

Inflammation of the parotid gland (salivary glands near the ear). [CancerWEB]

Paroxysm

The fit, attack, or exacerbation, of a disease that occurs at intervals, or has decided remissions or intermissions. [CancerWEB]

Pathogen

An agent that causes disease, especially a living microorganism such as a bacterium or fungus. [Heritage]

Pearl Eye

Pearl in the eye. The old English name of cataract. [Hoblyn1855]

Pediculosis

Infestation with lice. [Heritage]

Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

Pellagra

An affection in which a morbid condition of the skin is a prominent symptom; it is very prevalent among the peasantry of the northern states of Italy. It is called mal del sole, from its being ascribed to the heat of the sun's rays; Italian elephantiasis, etc. [Hoblyn1855]

A disease common in certain parts of Italy, beginning by shining red spot on some part of the head or body. [Thomas1875]

Pellagra is a disease that occurs when a person does not get enough niacin (one of the B complex vitamins) or tryptophan (an amino acid) in their diet. It can also occur if the body fails to absorb these nutrients. The disease is common in certain parts of the world (in people consuming large quantities of corn). It is characterized by scaly skin sores, diarrhea, inflamed mucous membranes, and mental confusion and delusions. It may develop after gastrointestinal diseases or alcoholism. [MedlinePlus].

Example from a 1923 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Infantile Pellagra

Kwashiorkor

Pemphigus

Any of several acute or chronic skin diseases characterized by groups of itching blisters. [Heritage]

Pemphigus Vulgaris

A severe and often fatal form of chronic pemphigus. [Merriam Webster].

Pemphigus occurring in middle age, in which cutaneous flaccid acantholytic suprabasal bullae and oral mucosal erosions are first localized but, become generalized after a few months, forming blisters that break easily and are slow to heal. [American Heritage].

Example from a 1921 death certificate from Illinois:

Periodic Fever

An obsolete term introduced to describe the intermittent febrile episodes seen in disease later recognized and named familial Mediterranean fever. [CancerWEB]

Perforation of Stomach or Intestines

A condition in which disease or injury has resulted in a leakage of digestive tract contents into the peritoneal cavity. A common cause is a ruptured appendix or perforating peptic ulcer. Immediate surgical intervention is needed to prevent peritonitis. [Mosby].

Example from a 1928 death certificate from New Brunswick, Canada:

Periostitis

Inflammation of the membrane covering the bones. [CivilWarMed].

Inflammation of the periosteum. When of a diffuse nature, accompanied by suppuration, it is called periostitis diffusa. [Dunglison1874].

Example from an 1894 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Peripneumonia

Inflammation of the substance of the lungs. See pneumonia. [Dunglison1874]

Peritonitis

Inflammation of the peritoneum (membrane lining the abdominal cavity). Characterized by violent pain in the abdomen, increased by the slightest pressure, often by simple weight of bed clothes. It frequently occurs in parturient state and begins on the second or third day after delivery. At times, a malignant epidemic, and perhaps contagious, variety has made its appearance, and destroyed numbers of females. This has been described under the name puerperal fever, metroperitonitis and low fever of child bed. [Dunglison1874].

Inflammation of the peritoneum, often accompanied by pain and tenderness in the abdomen, vomiting, constipation, and moderate fever. [Random House].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Diffuse Peritonitis

Peritonitis throughout the peritoneal cavity. [Biology Online].

Example from a 1904 death certificate from California:

Pneumococcal Peritonitis

Pneumococcus - A bacterium, Diplococcus pneumoniae, causing lobar pneumonia and associated with certain other diseases, as pericarditis and meningitis. [Random House]

Example from a 1929 Death Certificate from England:

Perityphlitis

Inflammation of the connective tissue about the caecum. [CancerWEB]

Pernicious Fever

Intermittent fever, when attended with great danger, and which destroys the majority of those affected by it in the first four or five paroxysms; sometimes in the very first. [Dunglison1868]

Perlèche A peculiar contagious disease of the mouth occurring in children. It consists in a thickening and desquamation of the epithelium at the angles of the mouth, with occasionally the formation of small fissures, giving rise to a smarting sensation in the lips. The disease is probably microbic in origin. [Gould1916]

Pernio

A chilblain, especially one on the heel; the effect of inflammation caused by cold. [Hoblyn1855]

A kibe or chilblain. [Thomas1875]

Persian Fire

Persicus Ignis

Persicus Ignis

Persian fire; a term applied by Avicenna to that species of carbuncle which is attended with pustules and vesications. [Hoblyn1855]

Pertussis

The name first given by Sydenham to hooping-cough, so called from the peculiar whooping sound which it occasions. [Hoblyn1855]

A violent convulsive cough, returning by fits. at longer or shorter intervals; and consisting of several expirations, followed by a sonorous inspiration and whoop. The fits of coughing generally recur more frequently during the night, morning, and evening, than in the day. It is esteemed to be contagious, and attacks the young more particularly. It is rare for it to effect an individual for a second time. The duration is various, - six or eight weeks or more. Although the paroxysms are violent, it is not a dangerous disease. It may, however, give rise to other affections, as convulsions, pneumonia, etc., when the complication is very dangerous, as the cause cannot be removed. [Dunglison1868]

Hooping-cough. A contagious disease characterized by a convulsive strangulating cough, with hooping, returning by fits which are usually terminated by vomiting. [Thomas1875]
 
Whooping Cough. [Heritage]
 
Fact sheet from CDC
Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

Example from an 1867 Death Certificate from England:

Pest

Plague

Pestilence

Plague

Pestis

Plague

Petechial Fever

A malignant fever, accompanied with livid spots on the skin; Typhus Gravior. [CancerWEB]

Pharyngitis

Inflammation of the pharynx.

Diphtheritic Pharyngitis

Diphtheria

Phenigmus

A cutaneous affection, consisting of redness diffused over the skin, without fever; Red Jaundice. [Dunglison1868]

Philippine Itch

Scabies. There are various names in vogue such as prairie itch, swamp itch, lumberman's itch, elephant itch, Ohio scratches, Texas mange, and, now, Cuban itch and Philippine itch, which are used to denominate all sorts of itching dermatoses from winter pruritus to scabies and smallpox. None of these terms has any exact meaning. They are most frequently applied to scabies, but frequently also to other itching dermatoses, like dermitis hiemalis. [Wilke1915]

Phimosis

An abnormal constriction of the foreskin that prevents it from being drawn back to uncover the glans penis. [Heritage]

Phlebitis

Inflammation of a vein; when accompanied by thrombus formation it is called thrombophlebitis. [Thomas1907]

Phleborrhagia

Rupture of the veins. [Dunglison1868]

Phlebotomus Fever

Sandfly Fever

Phlebotomy

Incision of a vein, as for the letting of blood; Blood-letting. [Dorland]

Phlegmon

Purulent inflammation of the cellular or areolar tissue. [Webster]

Phrenitis

Phrenzy or inflammation of the brain. [Hooper1829]

Inflammation of the membranes of the brain. Meningitis [Dunglison1868].

Example from an 1826 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Phthiriasis

Infestation with crab or pubic lice [Thomas1907]

Phthisis

Pulmonary consumption. It is known by emaciation, debility, cough, hectic fever, and purulent expectoration. [Hooper1843]

Consumption; pulmonary consumption, or decline; emaciation of the body, and debility, attended with a cough, hectic fever, and generally purulent expectoration. It is also termed marasmus, tabes pulmonalis, etc. [Hoblyn1855]

In a general sense, progressive emaciation. It is usually, however, restricted to phthisis pulmonalis. [Dunglison1874]

Pulmonary consumption, characterized by emaciation, debility, cough, hectic fever, and purulent expectoration. [Thomas1875]

Wasting of the frame. [Cleaveland1886]

A term formerly applied (like Consumption ) to the disease of the lung now known as Tuberculosis. [Britannica1911]

A wasting or consumption of the tissues. The term was formerly applied to many wasting diseases, but is now usually restricted to pulmonary phthisis, or Consumption. [Webster1913]

Pulmonary Tuberculosis. Involving the lungs with progressive wasting of the body. [Wordnet]

Phthisis is an archaic name for tuberculosis. [Medicinenet]

Example from an 1864 Church Record from Slovakia:

Example from an 1877 Death Certificate from England:

Bronchial Phthisis

Tuberculosis of the bronchial glands. [Appleton1904]

Phthisis Florida

An acute, rapidly fatal pulmonary consumption. Syn., galloping consumption. [Gould1916]

Phthisis Pulmonalis

Consumption of the lungs; strictly applied to the tuberculous variety. [Cleaveland1886].

Pulmonary consumption. Pulmonary tuberculosis. [Dorland].

Example from an 1892 Death Certificate from Australia:

Pulmonary Phthisis

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Tubercular Phthisis

Consumption caused or attended by the development of tubercles in the lungs. [Thomas1875]

Phthisis Tuberculosis

Pulmonary Tuberculosis

Phthisuria

Diabetes

Phthoe Ulceration of the lungs. [Thomas1875]

Pian

Framboesia

Pica

An abnormal craving or appetite for nonfood substances, such as dirt, paint, or clay. [Heritage]

Picardy Sweat

Suette de Picardie, an epidemic disease, the principal symptoms of which were profuse sweats and a miliary eruption. Occurred between 1718 and 1804. [Dunglison1874]

Pick's Disease

A form of dementia characterized by a slowly progressive deterioration of social skills and changes in personality leading to impairment of intellect, memory, and language. [CancerWEB]

Pigeon Breast

A chest deformity marked by a projecting sternum, often occurring as a result of infantile rickets. Also called chicken breast. [Heritage]

Bleeding Piles

Hemorrhoids; tumors or enlarged veins, about the neighborhood of the anus, sometimes attended with hemorrhage and prolapsus. [Cleaveland1886].

The small, troublesome tumors or swellings about the anus and lower part of the rectum which are technically called hemorrhoids. [Wordnet]

Pinkeye

Conjunctivitis

Pinsweal

Furuncle

Pip

Syphilis

Pitting Edema Edema in which the tissues show prolonged existence of the pits produced by pressure. [Dorland]

Plague

Any destructive pestilence, especially a specific acute and malignant fever, which often prevails in Egypt, Syria, and Turkey, and has occurred epidemically at different times and places in the large cities of Europe. It is attended with nervous disturbance, and usually is accompanied by buboes or swellings of the inguinal or other lymphatic glands, and occasionally with carbuncles, pustules, spots, and petechia of various colors and distributed in different parts of the body. [Appleton1904].

"plague" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1010. [Webster].

Fact sheet from CDC
Fact sheet from WHO

American Plague

The yellow fever epidemic of 1793, centering in Philadelphia.

Black Plague

The epidemic form of bubonic plague experienced during the Middle Ages; Black Death. [Wordnet]

Bubonic Plague

Plague is a specific, inoculable, and otherwise communicable epidemic disease common to man and many of the lower animals. It is characterized by fever, the development of buboes, a rapid course, a very high mortality, and the presence of a specific bacterium in the lymphatic glands, viscera, and blood. [Manson1898]

A contagious, often fatal epidemic disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia (syn. Pasteurella) pestis, transmitted from person to person or by the bite of fleas from an infected rodent, especially a rat, and characterized by chills, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and the formation of buboes. [Heritage]

Cold  Plague

A severe form of congestive fever, seen in the Southern States. Bilious pneumonia, in which there is no reaction, has been, also, so called. [Dunglison1868].

Cerebro-Spinal Fever. [A Treatise on the Continued Fevers, Wilson, 1881].

A malignant form of bilious pneumonia. [Appleton1904].

Dancing Plague

St. Vitus' Dance

Plague of Egypt

Typhus Egyptiacus in Latin. Typhus Plague. [Hooper1822]

Plague in the Guts

The term by which malignant cholera was known in England in the seventeenth century. [Appleton1904]

Hunger Plague

Relapsing Fever. [Gould1916]

Pahvant Valley Plague

Tularemia. Named after Pahvant Valley, Utah, where some of the first cases were reported. [Dorland]

Pneumonic Plague

A frequently fatal form of bubonic plague in which the lungs are infected and the disease is transmissible by coughing. [Heritage]

Septicemic Plague

A usually fatal form of bubonic plague in which the bacilli are present in the bloodstream and cause toxemia. [Heritage]

Syrian Plague

Aleppo Boil

Plague of Venus

Lues Venerea, Syphilis. [Hooper1843]

White Plague

Tuberculosis, esp. of the lungs; Pulmonary Tuberculosis. [Webster1913].

TB sufferers appeared markedly pale. [Wikipedia].

Planetstruck

Sideratio

Plethora

An excess of blood in the circulatory system or in one organ or area. [Heritage]

Pleurisy

Inflammation of the pleura (membrane enveloping the lungs), usually occurring as a complication of a disease such as pneumonia, accompanied by accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity, chills, fever, and painful breathing and coughing. [CivilWarMed].

Example from an 1826 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Louisiana:

Bastard Pleurisy

It is known by a dry cough, a quick pulse, and a difficulty of lying on the affected side, which last does not always happen in the true pleurisy. [Buchan1785]

Bilious Pleurisy

Pleurisy accompanied with bilious symptoms; the effect of duodentitis or duodenohepatitis; Bilious Pneumonia. [Dunglison1868].

Example from an 1856 death certificate from West Virginia:

Chronic Pleurisy

Pleurisy

Head Pleurisy

A ridiculous term, occasionally used by the vulgar, in the Southern States especially, for bilious pneumonia before the pneumonitic phenomena are developed, and whilst the head is prominently affected. Bilious Pneumonia. [Dunglison1868]

Side Pleurisy

Pleurisy on one side, usually the left. Pleurisy is generally unilateral. [Taylor1901].

Example from a 1922 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Spurious Pleurisy

Bastard Pleurisy. [Buchan1785]

Rheumatism, occurring in the muscles of the diaphram. [Thomas1875]

Pleuritis

Pleurisy.

Example from an 1895 death certificate from West Virginia:

Pneumonia

Inflammation of the lungs. The symptoms of this disease are fever, accompanied with pain in the thorax, which is aggravated by coughing, a quick and hard pulse, with more or less difficulty of breathing. [Thomas1875]

An acute or chronic disease marked by inflammation of the lungs and caused by viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms and sometimes by physical and chemical irritants. [Heritage].

"pneumonia" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1550. [Webster]

Example from an 1870 Mortality Schedule from Kentucky:

Atypical Pneumonia

Mycoplasma Infection

Bilious Pneumonia

Inflammation of the lungs, accompanied by gastric fever, and not uncommonly by typhoid symptoms. [Dunglison1868]

Example from an 1885 Death Record from Michigan:

Broncho-Pneumonia

Pneumonia involving many relatively small areas of lung tissue called also bronchial pneumonia, lobular pneumonia. [Merriam Webster]

Pneumonia characterized by acute inflammation of the walls of the bronchioles. [Wordnet]

Example from a 1930 Death Certificate from Scotland:

Croupous Pneumonia

Or ordinary pneumonia, is an acute affection characterized by sudden onset with a chill, high fever, rapid course, and sudden decline; -- also called lobar pneumonia, from its affecting a whole lobe of the lung at once. [Webster].

Example from a 1918 death certificate from Kentucky:

Double Pneumonia

Pneumonia affecting both lungs.

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Fibroid Pneumonia

Is an inflammation of the interstitial connective tissue lying between the lobules of the lungs, and is very slow in its course, producing shrinking and atrophy of the lungs. [Webster]

Hypostatic Pneumonia

Pneumonia with an accumulation of blood in the lungs. [Schmidt2011].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Illinois:

Lobar Pneumonia

Pneumonia affecting one or more lobes of the lung; commonly due to streptococcal infection. [Wordnet].

Example from a 1909 Canadian Death Certificate:

Lobular Pneumonia

Broncho-Pneumonia

Pleuro-pneumonia

Inflammation of the pleura and lungs; pneumonia aggravated by pleurisy. [Heritage].

Example from an 1858 Church Record in Münster, Switzerland:

Walking Pneumonia

Mycoplasma Infection

Pockmark

A pit like scar left on the skin by smallpox or another eruptive disease. [Heritage]

Podagra

Gout in the joints of the foot; applied also to gout in other parts of body. [CancerWEB]

Podagra Aberrans

Gout does not always confine itself to the joints. It may attack the internal organs. [Dunglison1868]

Poker Back

Spondylitis Deformans

Polio

Poliomyelitis. "polio" was first used: 1931. [Webster]

Information Card from the CDC

Poliomyelitis, Acute

A highly infectious viral disease that chiefly affects children and, in its acute forms, causes inflammation of motor neurons of the spinal cord and brainstem, leading to paralysis, muscular atrophy, and often deformity. Through vaccination, the disease is preventable. Also called infantile paralysis, Polio. [Heritage]

Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health
Fact sheet from WHO

Example from an 1927 Death Certificate from Ohio:

Polish Disease

Syphilis. The Russians called it the Polish disease.

Polypus

A name given to tumors, which occur in mucous membranes especially; and which have been compared to certain zoophytes. [Dunglison1868]

Polyuria

Excessive passage of urine, as in diabetes. [Heritage]

Ponos

Kala-Azar

Porcupine Disease

Ichthyosis; fish-skin disease. [Hoblyn1855]

Porphyria

A genetic abnormality of metabolism causing abdominal pains and mental confusion. [Wordnet]

Porphyria means purple urine. [Cartwright]

Porrigo

Ringworm of the scalp; scald head; also termed favus and tinea. [Thomas1875]

Portuguese Disease

Syphilis. The Japanese called it either the Portuguese or Chinese disease.

Pose

Coryza

Postime

Abscess

Pott's Boss

Pott's Disease

Pott's Disease

Caries of the bodies of the vertebrae, often resulting in marked curvature of the spine, and usually associated with a tuberculosis infection. [Dictionary.com].
Origin: 1825–35; named after Percival Pott (1714–88), British surgeon, who described it. [Dictionary.com].

TB of the spine with destruction of vertebrae resulting in curvature of the spine. [Webster].

Pott's Disease

Caries of the bodies of the vertebrae, often resulting in marked curvature of the spine, and usually associated with a tuberculosis infection. [Dictionary.com].
Origin: 1825–35; named after Percival Pott (1714–88), British surgeon, who described it. [Dictionary.com].

TB of the spine with destruction of vertebrae resulting in curvature of the spine. [Webster].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Ohio:

Pott's Paraplegia

Late complication of Pott's disease. [Webster]

Pox

The vulgar name of syphilis; formerly called great pox, to distinguish it from Variola, or small pox, on account of larger size of its blotches. [Hoblyn1855]

Prairie Dig

Scabies

Prairie Itch

An affection of the skin attended with intense itching, which is observed in the Northern and Western United States; -- also called swamp itch, winter itch. [Webster]

Premature Birth

Abortion.

Example from a 1925 Death Certificate from Louisiana:

Premature Delivery

Abortion

Prickly Heat

Heat Rash

Prison Fever

Epidemic Typhus

Prolapsus Ani

In this complaint a portion of the bowels protrudes from the anus. It is generally caused by a relaxed state of the body, or debility of the part, piles, drastic purgatives, or violent straining at stool. Children are most subject to this complaint. [Thomas1907]

Prostatitis

Inflammation of the prostate gland characterized by perineal pain and irregular urination and (if severe) chills and fever. [Wordnet].

Example from a 1920 Death Certificate from Louisiana:

Prostration

Great depression of strength. Almost total loss of power over the muscles of locomotion. [Dunglison1868]

Protein Disease

A once relatively common childhood kidney disease that causes the kidney to leak protein. This is a secondary allergic reaction to certain kinds of strep infections; Glomerulonephritis. [Wordnet].

Glomerulonephritis: Nephritis marked by inflammation of the glomerulus of the kidney; characterized by decreased production of urine and by the presence of blood and protein in the urine and by edema. [Wordnet]

Proteinuria

Albuminuria

Prunella

Angina Pectoris, Aphthae, Cynanche, (from German Braune, 'sore throat'). [Dunglison1874]

Pruritus

An ailment characterized by intense itching of the surface of the body. It may occur in connection with other morbid conditions, such as jaundice, diabetes, digestive disorders, &c., or as the result of the irritation produced by skin parasites. The most serious form is pruritus senilis, which affects old persons, and is often a cause of great suffering, depriving the patient of sleep. In such cases it is probably due to atrophic changes in the skin. No eruption is visible, except such marks as are produced by scratching. [Britannica1911]

Pseudo-Croup

Laryngismus Stridulus

Pseudoglanders

Melioidosis

Pseudovariola

Variola Minor

Psora

An eruption of small, isolated, acuminated vesicles, produced by the entrance of a parasitic mite (the Sarcoptes scabei), and attended with itching. It is transmissible by contact. [Webster]

Psoriasis

A cutaneous disease, characterized by rough, scaly cuticle, continuous, or in separate, irregular patches; generally with fissures of the skin. Often called scaly tetter. [Thomas1875]

A chronic skin disease characterized by dry red patches covered with scales; occurs especially on the scalp and ears and genitalia and the skin over bony prominences. [Dorland].

Psychosis

A severe mental disorder, with or without organic damage, characterized by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality and causing deterioration of normal social functioning. [Heritage].

A severe mental disorder, more serious than neurosis, characterized by disorganized thought processes, disorientation in time and space, hallucinations, and delusions. Paranoia, manic depression, megalomania, and schizophrenia are all psychoses. One who suffers from psychosis is psychotic. [Cultural Dictionary].

Psychosis

A severe mental disorder, with or without organic damage, characterized by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality and causing deterioration of normal social functioning. [Heritage].

A severe mental disorder, more serious than neurosis, characterized by disorganized thought processes, disorientation in time and space, hallucinations, and delusions. Paranoia, manic depression, megalomania, and schizophrenia are all psychoses. One who suffers from psychosis is psychotic. [Cultural Dictionary].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Illinois:

Pubic Lice

Pediculosis

Punch-Drunk

Dazed from or as if from repeated blows; "knocked silly by the impact"; "slaphappy with exhaustion".

Purples

Purpura.

Example from a 1740 Death Record from England:

Purpura

Literally, the purple, or livid disease. Scorbutus, or Scurvy; an eruption of small, distinct, purple specks and patches, attended with languor, general debility, and pains in the limbs. The term purpura originally denoted the shellfish from which the purple dye was produced; hence it was used for the dye itself, and was transferred to the disease from the analogy of colour. [Hoblyn1855].

A disease characterized by livid spots on the skin from extravagated blood, with languor and loss of muscular strength, pain in the limbs; the purples, land scurvy. [Dunglison1868].

A disease in which there are small distinct purple specks and patches, with general debility, but not always with fever. [Thomas1875].

Any of several blood diseases causing subcutaneous bleeding. [Wordnet].

Purpura Haemorrhagica

The spots are circular, and of different sizes; often in stripes or patches, irregularly scattered over the thighs, arms and trunk; with occasional hemorrhage from the mouth, nostrils, or viscera, and great debility and depression of spirits. Black Leg is one form of this disease. It occurs particular among the lumberman of Canada, and seems to be dependent on the coarse diet used by them. [Dunglison 1874].

Malignant petechial fever. [Thomas1875].

(Entry from an 1854 Church Record in Münster, Switzerland)

Malignant Purpuric Fever

Cerebro-Spinal Fever.

Purulence

The condition of containing or discharging pus. [Heritage]

Pus

A generally viscous, yellowish-white fluid formed in infected tissue, consisting of white blood cells, cellular debris, and necrotic tissue. [Heritage]

Putrid Fever

A name given to typhus, from its symptoms of putrescency. It has been called spotted fever, from its being attended with petechia, or flea-bite spots; and by the Spaniards, tavardillo, from tavardo, a spotted cloak. [Hoblyn1855].

Typhus Gravior. [Dunglison1874].

Typhus fever; -- so called from the decomposing and offensive state of the discharges and diseased textures of the body. [Webster1913].

Putrid Sore Throat

Scarlatina. [Transactions of the American Medical Association, Volume 12, 1859].

Cynanche Maligna, often attendant on scarlatina. [Thomas 1870].

Ulceration of an acute form attacking the tonsils and rapidly running into sloughing of the fauces. Synonym; Cynanche Maligna. [The Science and Practice of Medicine, Aitken, 1872].

Cynanche Maligna, Diphtheria. [Thomas1907].

A gangrenous inflammation of the fauces and pharynx. [Webster].

Example from an 1825 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Example from an 1858 death certificate from West Virginia:

Pyelitis

Inflammation of the pelvis and calices of the kidney. [Dunglison1874].

 Inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney. [Webster1913].

Acute inflammation of the pelvis of the kidney, caused by bacterial infection. [Heritage].

Inflammation of the renal pelvis, the central part of the kidney where urine accumulates before discharge. It is caused by bacterial infection and is more common in women than in men. [Tiscali].

Pyelonephritis

Inflammation of the kidney and its pelvis, caused by a bacterial infection. [Dictionary.com].

Example from a 1915 Death Certificate from Massachusetts:

Pyemia; Pyæmia

Infection of the blood causing pus-producing abscesses. [CivilWarMed].

A febrile disease supposed to be due to absorption of pus or its constituents into the blood. It usually follows wounds, suppurative inflammation of bone, or the puerperal state, and results in the formation of secondary abscesses in the viscera, joints, and connective tissue. It sometimes associated with phlebitis or embolism. [Appleton1904].

Septicemia caused by pyogenic microorganisms in the blood, often resulting in the formation of multiple abscesses. [American Heritage].

Example from an 1883 Death Certificate from Pennsylvania:

Pyloric Stenosis

A congenital disorder in which the pylorus is thickened causing obstruction of the gastric outlet (to the duodenum). More common in males. [CancerWEB]

Pyonephritis

Purulent inflammation of the kidney. [Dorland].

Distention of the pelvis and calices of the kidney, accompanied by suppuration and associated with obstruction. [American Heritage].

A collection of pus in the kidney. [Merriam-Webster].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Pyonephrosis

Distention of the pelvis and calices of the kidney, accompanied by suppuration and associated with obstruction. [American Heritage]. A collection of pus in the kidney. [Merriam-Webster].

Example from a 1906 Death Certificate from Massachusetts:

Pyosalpinx

Distention of a fallopian tube with pus. [American Heritage].

A collection of pus in an oviduct. [Merriam-Webster]

Example from an 1889 Infirmary Death Record from England:

Pyosepticemia

A serious septicemia of newborn animals caused by pus-producing bacteria entering the body through the umbilical cord or opening and typically marked by joint inflammation or arthritis accompanied by generalized pyemia, rapid debilitation, and commonly death—called also navel ill, joint evil, joint ill. [Merriam Webster].

Pyrexia

A rise in the temperature of the body; frequently a symptom of infection; Fever. [Wordnet]

Pyrosis

A technical name for heartburn. [Collins].

Acid reflux. [Dictionary.com].

Pythogenic Fever

Typhoid Fever, Enteric Fever. [A Treatise on the Continued Fevers, Wilson, 1881].

Pyuria

That morbid condition in which pus is discharged with the urine. [Appleton1904]