vsauce / Studies in Words

A friend got me into this youTube channel called vsauce. It is pretty cool if you enjoy the deeper, or weirder, questions of existence, or life, or human behavior. Some of the titles can sound pretty lame, but actually contain cool tidbits of science and esoterica. The host is entertaining to watch – I think he may like coffee a little more than the rest of us.

Some of my favorites are:

Is Anything Real?

Is Your Red the Same as My Red?

Did the Past Really Happen?

Will We Ever Visit Other Stars?


And, although I really don’t have the time for it presently, I discovered and immediately purchased C.S. Lewis’ Studies in Words.  If one knows what Lewis’s day job and education was, one knows he was more than qualified to write such a book. I’m only on the introduction right now and probably will be so for a while.

As noted before I am eternally stuck in medical terminology. Not just the names and descriptions of all body parts and organs and regions and whole body terminology, but of common symptoms, pathological conditions, diagnostic techniques, treatments and procedures, and common medical abbreviations. Read 58 pages just on the digestive system and then try to remember on a test that AST stands for “aspartate aminotransferase” and SGOT stands for “serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase”.

They never test you on blind memory for such things, the abbreviation sections are always multiple choice and, usually, the abbreviations follow the lettering; like NG is nasogastric. Then again you would think that “nothing by mouth” would be NBM, but it is NPO.

I have found that the tests require significantly less than the material provided in the chapters. And I think I have figured out why (two and a half months later). The textbook I am using is called Comprehensive Medical Terminology, not Comprehensive Medical Terminology for Medical Coders. This is a textbook used for all sort of medical training. If I go through all this shit and I end up in a specialist’s office, I’ll be pissed! “Why did I have to learn that the frothy, foul smelling poop that floats in my toilet bowl is called steatorrhea?” Steat = Fat + rrhea = discharge, flow. Rrhea, we should all be familiar with as in diarrhea – a word, I should mention that I am now incapable of ever misspelling again.

I actually love the word elements section of each chapter. You are given many root words with their combining vowel which is then called a combining form such as gingiv/o (gums) or lapar/o (abdominal wall). And you are given prefixes (not many of these) and suffixes such as tresia (perforation) phagia (to eat) emesis (to vomit).

And words are infinitely fun. Yes they are, damnit!

So you could take, let’s say emesis, and I could say emesis is my nemesis because I have a mortal fear of barfing. Or we can revisit a word Steat/o (fat) and combine it with a new suffix, rrhagia (excessive flow or discharge – this is rrhea with the hose on full blast) and we would have the day after you consume two triple double decker cheeseburgers, namely, steatorrhagia.

The pronunciation would be stee-at-or-rage-ee-ah. See, you’re pronouncing the word rage in there which is what, and let’s be medical here, your rectum and anus are doing after you ate an entire bucket of the colonel’s special recipe last night!


Yes, I am giggling like a 8 eight old boy! I don’t care! I have to have some relief from this! And if that means making people look at a picture of this,


then so be it. I got it off a medical site, so it is completely professional even if my treatment of it is not.

Now while you will find steatorrhea on a Google search, you will not find (I did not find) steatorrhagia because I just made it up. But it betrays no laws of combination that I know of. It makes little medical sense because of the definition of rrhagia which is excessive flow or discharge. Everything in the large intestine is destined for defecation except than which is reabsorbed – water and electrolytes.

Alright, let me wipe the tears from my eyes. Oh, crap, I’m giggling again. Hey, I aced the test on this chapter, btw. Then again I’ve aced them all so whatever.

Alright, nope, here I go again! I can’t stop laughing! Look at the guy clutching his stomach after that paragraph I wrote! If you’re not laughing then that means I am not mature enough to hang out with you!

But you did learn something, so please, let’s be adults and move on. Eh hum…

Studies in Words has the following words that are covered. Note first that there are not many covered in the book, but I would hope that a pattern, an applicable lesson, could be learned from it. Each word gets its own chapter:

Nature (with Phusis, Kind, Physical, etc…) Sad (with Gravis) Wit (with Ingenium) Free (with Eleutherios, Liberal, Frank, Etc…) Sense (with Sentence, Sensibility, and Sensible) Simple, Conscience and Conscious, World, Life.

It looks to be a great deal of fun. Although it looks to be one of those books where I’ll have to go a little slower because the material is over my head in places.


8 thoughts on “vsauce / Studies in Words

  1. To a writer, every piece of knowledge is a resource. Handled carefully, the medical terminology could add authority to a story relevant to such matters. Edification can add to entertainment.

    1. Agree completely. Even the bartending, which has to be one of the biggest soul-sucking jobs there is next to waiting tables and giving handjobs for crack, was knowledge of the negative sort.

      Although I’d say you do not need to necessarily have your subject be anything medical for this to have application.

      For instance, I just finished up endocrinology (well, my first sweep, I’ll be taking it two more times in subsequent classes). One of the word elements is “Andr/o” which can be Man or Male. I already knew the suffix “-oid”. But I had never parsed the word “Android” or its shorter “Droid”.

      I go, “Ah, Android!” I guess I knew andr/o from a couple sources as I took a prescription supplement a few years ago called androgel. Just growing up surrounded by science fiction since my first memories the word was so ubiquitous I never questioned it. Android – well that’s C3PO and others like him.

      Right now I’m quite interested in the word Somat/o (body – although I’d bet my left leg and right arm I didn’t have to tell you that!) and a science fiction usage.

      I say science fiction, but I think I am more interested in speculative fiction. Weird fiction.

      I’d like to use this knowledge in the fields it is not. Although most of it is already from outside “the field”. There is a medical condition called “acromegaly”.

      Bet you can break that down without a reference.

      Yep – enlargement of the extremities. Acr/o. Now, I’m a wee bit slower, well, at least a lot less educated, than you and so it was after I got done with the chapter that it dawned on me acro… acro… extremities… acrobat! Ah! But… hold on… what is the bat?

      Words mmm tasty. When I get done with this course I will have endless fun with this stuff. For right now, I have to start a new chapter “The Special Senses!”

      1. I occurs to me it is possible I had this knowledge at some point in the past. It suddenly strikes me a ludicrous I didn’t know what android meant.

        Drugs. Go ahead and do ’em just don’t complain about the consequences!

  2. Acrophobia, acropolis, acrobat. Top (high) or extreme point (extremity),
    Mega (anything) = large

    I probably would have guessed extreme height as a medical condition.

  3. I know soma from “psychosomatic”: pertaining to a physical manifestation stemming from of a psychological state.

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