The name, “Chicken Pox” is vernacular for the Varicella Zoster Virus. When it has a name the evokes cuteness and also is also silly, that is a an illness that can, despite rarely, case the life the a child. Before the may 1995 advent of the Varicella vaccine, over four million people would suffer from the Chicken Pox every year- around 100 would certainly die.

You are watching: How did chicken pox get its name

The an initial documentation the the virus is credited to the Italian, Giovanni Filippo (1510-1580) the Palermo. Of course, then, that wasn’t referred to as Chicken Pox. The was named as the “Varicella Virus”. Chicken Pox is a strictly English language term for this virus. The French call it Varicelle. The Spanish call the virus Varicela. Just the Germans speak to Chicken Pox by anything even remotely similar. They call them “Windpocken”.

So, earlier to the topic at hand, why IS it referred to as “Chicken Pox”? Well, over there are many theories, as there usually room to “street names” the things. In the 1600s the Englishman, Dr. Richard Morton, misdiagnosed the an illness as a milder type of tiny Pox. Small Pox, though currently eradicated with vaccination, to be a fatal an illness that killed around 300-500 million world during the 20th century alone, and wasn’t any type of less deadly in Dr. Morton’s time. Due to the fact that both viruses manifest themselves in the type of lesions top top the skin as well as fever, it was basic to check out why anyone would affix the 2 to one another.

In fact, the an excellent 18th century medical professional Samuel Johnson himself is credited in one of the most renowned theories regarding the origin of the surname Chicken Pox. This concept goes the he believed because it to be a milder form of tiny Pox, it no as strong or together vicious. Therefore, it was “chicken.” If you’re curious, chicken, an interpretation “coward,” first popped up roughly the 14th century.

However, offered that the first documented circumstances of “Chicken Pox” comes from the 1727 Chambers Encyclopedia– as soon as Dr. Johnson would have been just 18 years old- if the “chicken/coward” concept is correct, we’re an ext than a tiny skeptical the the surname was assumed up by him. The specific reference in the Chambers Encyclopedia states:

Chicken Pox, a cutaneous disease, constant in children, within the skin is spanned with pustules choose those that the tiny pox.

In 1767, Dr. William Heberden, likewise hailing indigenous England, make the discovery that Chicken Pox and little Pox are in fact, not from the very same virus as previously thought.

This every brings us to concept number two. The middle English language (12th-15th centuries) had actually the indigenous “Yicche” or “Icchen” meaning, “to itch.” The Old English word because that “to itch” is “Giccan.” So the seems possible that “Chicken Pox” may simply be a bastardized version of “Giccan/Yicche/Icchen/Itching” + “Pox.”

Beyond those, civilization have voiced theory that usually aren’t provided as much credence, such as that the red clues look prefer a chicken pecked the victim. One more idea is that they were named for your similarity in appearance come “chick peas” (a.k.a. “Garbanzo Beans” or “Ceci Beans”).

See more: Explainer: Why Do Meteors Burn Up In The Mesosphere, Breakdown: The Layer That Gives Us Shooting Stars

Now let’s look at the various other word- “Pox.” Pox, which very first popped up approximately the so late 15th century, is simply an alternate way to spell the many of “pockes” (from “pocke”), which ultimately derives native the Old English “pocc,” meaning “pustule, blister, ulcer.”

So depending upon which the the two key theories you want to believe, Chicken Pox would certainly then one of two people literally it is in “cowardly/lesser blisters” (as in a lesser form of small Pox- which if you walk look in ~ some pictures of those affected, Chicken Pox is definitely lesser). Alternatively, it can simply it is in a bastardized way of saying “Icchen (as in itchy) Blisters,” which because that those of us who’ve had actually it, we can all agree Chicken Pox is that. Therefore take her pick. There just isn’t enough documented evidence for united state to know for sure on this one.

If you favored this article, girlfriend might additionally enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood display (iTunes, Spotify, Google beat Music, Feed), too as: