Spring water goddess

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.

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