The Romance of Language: Word for the Week 3/10/17


By Cruickshank

“He who practises the art of midwifery, a man-midwife.”

–from Robley Dunglison’s  Dictionary of Medical Science, 1844

An obstetrician; from French accoucher, to deliver.

–from Richard Hoblyn’s  Dictionary of Terms Used in Medicine, 1859

I’d heard this term before while reading historical fiction or historical documents, so I could tell from contest clues what they were. While doing research on Only Scandal Will Do, I discovered that men did not begin delivering babies until the mid-to-late 18th century. These men were held in great suspicion. So birth and midwifery had been the business of women for centuries, and continues on into the 21st century.

If you want to watch a wonderful series about midwifery in a period setting, watch BBC’s Call the Midwife. Great PBS program!




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