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English Glossary of Causes of Death and other Archaic Medical Terms


Illusory perception; a common symptom of severe mental disorder; Delusion. [Wordnet]


A focal growth that resembles a neoplasm but results from faulty development in an organ. [Wordnet]

Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection caused by a strain of Coxsackie virus. It causes a blister-like rash that, as the name implies, involves the hands, feet and mouth. (Hand, foot and mouth disease is different than foot-and-mouth disease, which is an infection of cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and deer and is caused by a different virus.). Symptoms of fever, poor appetite, runny nose and sore throat can appear three to five days after exposure. A blister-like rash on the hands, feet and in the mouth usually develops one to two days after the initial symptoms. [NYHealth]

Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health

Hardening of Bowels


Hay Asthma

Hay Fever.

Hay Fever

An allergic condition affecting the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes, most often characterized by nasal discharge, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes and usually caused by an abnormal sensitivity to airborne pollen. Also called pollinosis. [Heritage].

Example from a 1904 death certificate from Canada:

Head Cold

A common cold mainly affecting the mucous membranes of the nasal passages, characterized by congestion, headache, and sneezing. [Heritage]

Head Lice



Pain in the head; called also cephalalgia. [Dorland]

Heart Burn

An esophageal symptom consisting of a retrosternal sensation of warmth or burning occurring in waves and tending to rise upward toward the neck; it may be accompanied by a reflux of fluid into the mouth (water brash). It is often associated with gastroesophageal reflux. Called also pyrosis. [Dorland]

Heat Rash

Inflammation around the sweat ducts [Wordnet]


A condition caused by exposure to excessive heat, natural or artificial, and marked by dry skin, vertigo, headache, thirst, nausea, and muscular cramps; body temperature may be dangerously elevated, contrasting with heat exhaustion in which the body temperature may be subnormal. [Dorland].

Hectic Fever

A slow consuming fever, generally attending a bad habit of body, or some incurable and deep rooted disease. [Buchan1798]

It is known by exacerbations at noon, but greater in the evening, with slight remissions in the morning, after nocturnal sweats; the urine depositing a furfuraceo-lateritious sediment; appetite good; thirst moderate. Hectic fever is symptomatic of chlorosis, scrofula, phthisis, diseased viscera, etc. [Hooper1843]

The name of a slow, continued, or remittent fever, which generally accompanies the end of organic affections, and has been esteemed idiopathic, although it is probably always symptomatic. It is the fever of irritation and debility; and is characterized by progressive emaciation, frequent pulse, hot skin, especially of the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and, towards the end, colliquative sweats and diarrhea. Being symptomatic, it can only be removed by getting rid of the original affection. This is generally difficult, and almost always hopeless in the disease which it most commonly accompanies, consumption. [Dunglison1868].

A fever of irritation and debility, occurring usually at an advanced stage of exhausting disease, as in pulmonary consumption. [Webster].

Example from an 1825 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Hematemesis / Hæmatemesis

A vomiting of blood. [Heritage].

Example from an 1883 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Hematuria / Hæmaturia

This is a hemorrhage from the mucous membrane of the urinary passages, the kidneys, bladder or urethra. [Wilson1893].

Example from an 1876 death certificate from Australia:

Hemiplegia /Hæmiplegia

A palsy that affects one side only of the body. [Webster1913].

Paralysis of one side of the body. [Wordnet].

Total or partial paralysis of one side of the body that results from disease of or injury to the motor centers of the brain. [Merriam Webster].

Example from a 1901 Ohio Death Certificate:


Any of several hereditary blood-coagulation disorders in which the blood fails to clot normally because of a deficiency or abnormality of one of the clotting factors. Hemophilia, a recessive trait associated with the X-chromosome, is manifested almost exclusively in males. [Heritage]

Hemoptysis / Hæmoptysis

The spitting of blood derived from the lungs or bronchial tubes as a result of pulmonary or bronchial hemorrhage. [CivilWarMed].

Example from an 1885 death certificate from Illinois:

Hemorrhage / Hæmorrhage

Excessive discharge of blood from the blood vessels; profuse bleeding. [Heritage].

"Cerebral Hemorrhage" - Example from a 1930 death certificate from Ohio:


The piles. [Buchan1798]

Livid and painful swellings formed by the dilation of the blood vessels around the margin of, or within, the anus, from which blood or mucus is occasionally discharged; piles; emerods. [Dorland]

Hempen Fever

A man who was hanged is said to have died of hempen fever; and , in Dorsetshire, to have been stabbed with a Bridport dagger; Bridport being a place famous for manufacturing hemp into cords. [Grose1788]


Inflammation of the liver. [Dorland].
Hepatitis is any of several liver diseases characterized by inflammation, liver enlargement, jaundice, fever and abdominal pain. It can be caused by a number of different etiologies: some of these are drug, alcohol, or toxin-induced hepatitis, autoimmune disease, cholestasis, and viral hepatitis. [Wikipedia].
"hepatitis" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1550. [Webster]
Fact sheet from CDC
Information sheet from NYS Dept of Health
Example from an 1826 death certificate from Pennsylvania:



Disease of the liver.

Hereditary Disease

Disease genetically transmitted from parent to offspring. [Dorland]


The protrusion of a loop or knuckle of an organ or tissue through an abnormal opening; Rupture. [Dorland]

"hernia" was first used in popular English literature: sometime before 1380. [Webster]

Abdominal Hernia

Herniation of omentum, intestine, or some other internal body structure through the abdominal wall. [Dorland]

Hernia Humoralis

Inflammation of the Testicles [Hooper1822]

Incarcerated Hernia

Hernia so occluded that it cannot be returned by manipulation; it may or may not become strangulated. [Mosby' Medical Dictionary].

Example from an 1890 Death Certificate from Illinois:

Inguinal Hernia

Hernia of an intestinal loop into the inguinal canal. An indirect inguinal hernia (external or oblique hernia) leaves the abdomen through the deep inguinal ring, and passes down obliquely through the inguinal canal, lateral to the inferior epigastric artery. A direct inguinal hernia (internal hernia) emerges between the inferior epigastric artery and the edge of the rectus muscle. [Dorland]

Irreducible Hernia

Incarcerated Hernia. [Mosby' Medical Dictionary].

Example from an 1897 Death Record from Michigan:

Strangulated Hernia

A hernia so tightly compressed in some part of the channel through which it has been protruded as to arrest its circulation, and produce swelling of the protruded part. It may occur in recent or chronic hernia, but is more common in the latter. [Webster].

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:


Serpigo, or tetter; a skin disease in which little itchy vesicles increase, spread, and cluster together, terminating in furfuraceous scales. [Thomas1875]

Herpes Zoster

Herpes spreading across the waist, or thorax, like a sash or sword-belt, commonly called shingles. [Hoblyn1855]

A reactivation of the same Herpes virus that is responsible for chicken pox. This results in a painful blistery red rash that is confined to one side of the body; Shingles. [CancerWEB]

Fact sheet from CDC

Hip Disease

White Swelling

Hip Joint Disease

White Swelling, tuberculosis of the hip joint.


Cynanche Trachealis, Urticaria. In Scotland; any eruption of the skin, proceeding from an internal cause; and, in Lothian, it is used to denote both the red and the yellow gum. In the United States it is vaguely employed; most frequently, perhaps, for Urticaria. [Dunglison1874].

A popular name for the croup. It is also applied to different species of rash. [Thomas1875].

An itchy skin eruption characterized by wheals with pale interiors and well-defined red margins; usually the result of an allergic response to insect bites or food or drugs. [Wordnet].

Example from a 1921 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Bold Hives

Cynanche Trachealis [Hooper1829]

Croup [Appleton1904].

Example from an 1835 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Bowel Hives

The vernacular name under which is included enteritis, convulsions, diarrhea, dysentery, and teething. It is impossible to ascertain the precise disease in these cases. [Annual report of the Registrar-General on the Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Scotland, 1862].

Bull Hives

The vernacular name under which is included enteritis, convulsions, diarrhea, dysentery, and teething. It is impossible to ascertain the precise disease in these cases. [Annual report of the Registrar-General on the Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Scotland, 1862].

Eating Hives

Rupia escharotica, known in Ireland under the names white blisters, eating hives, and burnt holes. [Dunglison1874]

Hodgkin's Disease

A malignant, progressive, sometimes fatal disease of unknown cause, marked by enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver. Also called Hodgkin's lymphoma. [Heritage].

A type of cancer characterized by progressive chronic inflammation and enlargement of the lymph nodes of the neck, armpit, groin, and mesentery, by enlargement of the spleen and occasionally of the liver and the kidneys, and by lymphoid infiltration along the blood vessels. [].

Origin: 1860–65; after Thomas Hodgkin (1798–1866), London physician who described it.

Example from a 1919 Death Certificate from Georgia:

Holy Fire

Ignis Sacer [Medicinenet]



Hooping Cough

Whooping cough. A convulsive cough, consisting of a long series of forcible expirations, followed by a deep, loud, sonorous inspiration, and repeated more or less frequently during each paroxysm. It is popularly known in England as whooping cough, kinkcough, and chincough; in France , as coqueluche; in Germany, as keuchhusten and stickhusten, from the sonorous inspiration which marks it; and technically as tussis convulsiva and pertussis. [Hoblyn1900].

Example from a 1740 Death Record from England:

Example from an 1858 death certificate from West Virginia:

Example from an 1862 Death Register from Scotland:


A term applied to the varioloid form of smallpox, in which the vesicles shrivel and dry up, presenting a horny appearance. [Hoblyn1900].



Hospital Fever

Typhus Gravior

Hotel Fever

Any of a number of affections that occurred to people staying in small unsanitary hotels. In 1857 the National Hotel in Washington, D.C. had several cases of hotel fever that were attributed to an open sewer line that ran beneath the hotel. The sewer gases would travel through the heating ducts and enter the rooms. [Schmidt2007]

House Disease

Consumption. [Gould1916]

Humid Tetter



A general term for any fluid in the body. [Hooper1822]


Every fluid substance of an organized body; as the blood, chyle, lymph, etc. The Humours differ considerably as to number and quality in the different species of organized beings; and even in the same species, according to the state of health or disease. The ancients reduced them to four; which they called cardinal humours: the blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and atrabilis or black bile.[Dunglison1855]


Nonmedical term for kyphosis or gibbus.  [CancerWEB]

Hunger Pest

Relapsing Fever

Hunger Typhus

Epidemic Typhus

Huntington's Chorea / Disease

An autosomal dominant disease characterized by chronic progressive chorea and mental deterioration terminating in dementia; the age of onset is variable but usually in the fourth decade of life, with death within 15 years. [Dorland].

Hutchinson’s Triad

Deafness, impaired vision, and notched, peg-shaped teeth. Symptoms in children with hereditary Syphilis. [Cartwright]


The larval form of a tapeworm, having the head and neck of a tapeworm attached to a saclike body filled with fluid; -- called also bladder worm, and measle (as, pork measle). [Webster].

The larval cyst of a tapeworm of the genus Echinococcus that usually occurs as a fluid-filled sac containing daughter cysts in which scolices develop but that occas. forms a proliferating spongy mass which actively metastasizes in the host's tissues called also hydatid cyst; —see Echinococcos. [Merriam-Webster].

Example from an 1887 Death Certificate from England:


A collection of serous fluid in the areolar texture of the scrotum or in the coverings, especially in the serous sac, investing the testicle or the spermatic cord; dropsy of the testicle. [Webster]


An accumulation of fluid within the ventricles or subarachnoid spaces of the brain. In the congenital form, the head is noticed to be unusually large at birth, or very soon develops after coming into the world. [Thomas1907]

The word "hydrocephalus" in Greek literally means "watery head." [Medicinenet]

Example from an 1881 German Death Certificate:

Hydrocephalus Internus

Hydrocephalus in which there is a serous effusion into the ventricles of the brain. [Appleton1904].

Example from an 1832 death certificate from Pennsylvania:


Ascites [Dunglison1868].

Hydrops / Hydropsy

Dropsy; a morbid accumulation of water in a cavity, or the cellular substance. [Hoblyn1855].

Example from an 1864 Church Record from Slovakia:


A collection of serous fluid within the pleural cavity without inflammation. Dropsy of the Chest. [Thomas1907].

Example from an 1826 death certificate from Pennsylvania:

Hyperemia/ Hyperæmia

Preternatural accumulation of blood in the capillary vessels, more especially local plethora. [Dunglison1868]


An increase in, or excessive growth of, the normal elements of any part. [Webster 1913].

Note: Hyperplasia relates to the formation of new elements, hypertrophy being an increase in bulk of preexisting normal elements. --Dunglison.

An abnormal increase in cells in a tissue or organ, excluding tumor formation, whereby the bulk of the tissue or organ is increased.  [American Heritage].


A condition of overgrowth or excessive development of an organ or part; -- the opposite of {atrophy}. [Webster 1913].

A nontumorous enlargement of an organ or a tissue as a result of an increase in the size rather than the number of constituent cells. To grow or cause to grow abnormally large. [American Heritage].


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



The persistent conviction that one is or is likely to become ill, often involving symptoms when illness is neither present nor likely, and persisting despite reassurance and medical evidence to the contrary. Also called hypochondriasis. [Heritage]

Hystaris Pyrosis

Pyrosia, an affection characterized by a spasmodic pain or hot sensation in the stomach with a rising of watery liquid into the mouth; Heartburn. [Webster]

Hysteria / Hysterics

A nervous affection, occurring almost exclusively in women, in which the emotional and reflex excitability is exaggerated, and the will power correspondingly diminished, so that the patient loses control over the emotions, becomes the victim of imaginary sensations, and often falls into paroxysm or fits. [Webster1913].

Example from an 1871 death record from Michigan:

Hysteric Fever

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

Hystero-Epilepsy Hystero-epilepsy is an alleged disease "discovered" by 19th-century French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. It is considered a famous example of iatrogenic artifact, or a disease created by doctors. The disease was considered a combination of hysteria and epilepsy. Charcot housed his "hystero-epilepsy" patients in the same ward as patients with epilepsy, because both were considered "episodic" diseases. Symptoms included "convulsions, contortions, fainting, and transient impairment of consciousness." Joseph Babinski convinced Charcot that he was inducing the symptoms in his patients because of his treatment regimen. [Wikipedia]

Hysteria accompanied by convulsions resembling epileptic seizures. [Stedman]