Newly Published
SPECIAL ARTICLE  |   September 2019
Etymology of Letheon: Nineteenth-century Linguistic Effervescence
Author Notes
  • From the Harry Daly Museum and Richard Bailey Library, Australian Society of Anaesthetists, North Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (R.P.H.); Departments of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio (G.S.B); Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Illinois (G.S.B.).
  • Submitted for publication February 21, 2019. Accepted for publication August 7, 2019.
    Submitted for publication February 21, 2019. Accepted for publication August 7, 2019.×
  • Correspondence: Address correspondence to Dr. Haridas: P.O. Box 6278, North Sydney, NSW 2059, Australia. rajesh.haridas@bigpond.com. Information on purchasing reprints may be found at www.anesthesiology.org or on the masthead page at the beginning of this issue. Anesthesiology’s articles are made freely accessible to all readers, for personal use only, 6 months from the cover date of the issue.
Article Information
Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Endocrine and Metabolic Systems / Pain Medicine
SPECIAL ARTICLE   |   September 2019
Etymology of Letheon: Nineteenth-century Linguistic Effervescence
Anesthesiology Newly Published on September 24, 2019. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002969
Anesthesiology Newly Published on September 24, 2019. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002969
Abstract

In late 1846, following his successful public demonstrations of surgical anesthesia, Boston dentist William T. G. Morton selected Letheon as the commercial name for the ether-based “preparation” he had used to produce insensibility to pain. We have not identified a first-hand account of the coinage of Letheon. Although the name ultimately derives from the Greek Lēthē, the adjective Lethean, much in use in the mid-19th century, may have influenced Morton and those he called on to assist in finding a commercial name. By one unverified account, the name Letheon might have been coined independently by both Augustus Addison Gould, M.D., and Henry Jacob Bigelow, M.D.