When we were going through the lymphoid system lecture, I mentioned that I’d tell you about the derivation of the word lymph.
It turns out that lymph is a combination of a couple different words: the Latin lumpæ, meaning water, and the Greek nymphe, meaning spring goddess. The resulting word – lympha in Latin, lymphe in French – means clear water or a goddess of water.
I just love this so much. First of all, lumpæ sounds gross, and I wouldn’t want to have to deal with that word all the time. Second, we now have an accurate description (lymph does look like clear water) overlaid with a lovely, delicate image (spring water goddess). I mean, what more could you want?
Now every time I hear lymphatic, or lymphocyte, my brain will conjure up something like this:
This is Persephone, the Greek goddess, bringing spring to the frozen tundra.