Paper - Etymology and pronunciation of the word "oestrus" and its derivatives

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Corner GW. Etymology and pronunciation of the word "oestrus" and its derivatives. (1937) Science. 85(2199):197-198. PMID 17844622

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This historic 1937 short note by George Corner is an description of the etymology and pronunciation of the word "oestrus" and its derivatives



George Corner Reference List 
Embryology References

Corner GW. Maturation of the ovum in swine . (1917) Anat. Rec. 13(2): 109-112.

Corner GW. Cyclic changes in the ovaries and uterus of swine, and their relations to the mechanism of implantation. (1921) Contrib. Embryol., Carnegie Inst. Wash. Publ. 394, :117-146.

Corner GW. Ovulation and menstruation in Macacus rhesus. (1923) Contributions to Embryology, vol. 15, Carnegie Inst. Washington Pub. no. 332, 75-101.

Corner GW. A well-preserved human embryo of 10 somites. (1929) Carnegie Instn. Wash. Publ. 394, Contrib. Embryol., Carnegie Inst. Wash. 20: 81-102.

Corner GW. The hormone of the corpus luteum. (1937) Trans Edinb Obstet Soc. 57: 61-80. PMID 29612342

Corner GW. Etymology and pronunciation of the word "oestrus" and its derivatives. (1937) Science. 85(2199):197-198. PMID 17844622

Corner GW. The events of the primate ovarian cycle. (1952) Br Med J. 2(4781): 403-409.PMID 14944840

Corner GW. The observed embryology of human single-ovum twins and other multiple births. (1955) Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol., 70(5); 933-51 PMID 13258680

Ramsey EM. Corner GW. Jr. Donner MW. and Stran HM. Radioangiographic studies of circulation in the maternal placenta of the rhesus monkey: preliminary report. (1960) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 46(7): 1003-8 PMID 16590693

PubMed References

CORNER GW. (1955). The observed embryology of human single-ovum twins and other multiple births. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 70, 933-51. PMID: 13258680

CORNER GW & NESBITT RE. (1954). Pregnancy and pulmonary resection. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 68, 903-15. PMID: 13188923

NESBITT RE & CORNER GW. (1956). Torsion of the human pregnant uterus. Obstet Gynecol Surv , 11, 311-32. PMID: 13335050

CORNER GW & STRAN HM. (1957). A fetal heart ratemeter. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 73, 190-5. PMID: 13381811

CORNER GW & STRAN HM. (1957). A recording sphygmomanometer. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 73, 196-9. PMID: 13381812

CORNER GW, KISTNER RW & WALL RL. (1951). The relationship of prolonged labor to fetal mortality. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 62, 1086-92. PMID: 14885290

RAMSEY EM, CORNER GW, LONG WN & STRAN HM. (1959). Studies of amniotic fluid and intervillous space pressures in the rhesus monkey. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 77, 1016-27. PMID: 13649772

CORNER GW, RAMSEY EM & STRAN H. (1963). Patterns of myometrial activity in the rhesus monkey in pregnancy. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 85, 179-85. PMID: 14023069

RAMSEY EM, CORNER GW & DONNER MW. (1963). Serial and cineradioangiographic visualization of maternal circulation in the primate (hemochorial) placenta. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 86, 213-25. PMID: 13990708

RAMSEY EM, CORNER GW & DONNER MW. (1963). CINERADIOANGIOGRAPHIC VISUALIZATION OF THE VENOUS DRAINAGE OF THE PRIMATE PLACENTA IN VIVO. Science , 141, 909-10. PMID: 14043333

CORNER GW. (1963). Exploring the placental maze. The development of our knowledge of the relation between the bloodstreams of mother and infant in utero. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 86, 408-18. PMID: 14040479

CORNER GW. (1963). The fetal and maternal circulation of the placenta. Clin Obstet Gynecol , 6, 17-25. PMID: 14023070

DONNER MW, RAMSEY EM & CORNER GW. (1963). MATERNAL CIRCULATION IN THE PLACENTA OF THE RHESUS MONKEY; A RADIOANGIOGRAPHIC STUDY. Am J Roentgenol Radium Ther Nucl Med , 90, 638-49. PMID: 14076056

CORNER GW, FARRIS EJ & CORNER GW. (1950). The dating of ovulation and other ovarian crises by histological examination in comparison with the Farris test. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 59, 514-28. PMID: 15410346

CORNER GW, FARRIS EJ & CORNER GW. (1950). The dating of ovulation and other ovarian crises by histological examination in comparison with the Farris test. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 59, 514-28. PMID: 15410346

BOWYER TS & CORNER GW. (1947). Premature quadruplets. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 54, 1033-7. PMID: 20272310

CORNER GW. (1959). Endocrine factors in the etiology of spontaneous abortion. Clin Obstet Gynecol , 2, 36-44. PMID: 13639313

Corner GW & Allen WM. (2005). Physiology of the corpus luteum. 1929. Am. J. Obstet. Gynecol. , 193, 1574; discussion 1575. PMID: 16202759 DOI.

Corner GW & Harris BA. (1979). Sterilization by mini-laparotomy. Female Patient , 4, 51-3. PMID: 12261211

Corner GW. (1974). Herbert McLean Evans. Biogr Mem Natl Acad Sci , 45, 153-92. PMID: 11615647

Amoroso EC & Corner GW. (1972). Herbert McLean Evans, 1882-1971. Biogr Mem Fellows R Soc , 18, 83-186. PMID: 11615755

CORNER GW. (1965). THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE OESTROGENIC HORMONES. J. Endocrinol. , 31, III-XVII. PMID: 14241740

CORNER GW. (1963). GEORGE HOYT WHIPPLE, NOBEL PRIZE PATHOLOGIST. Trans Stud Coll Physicians Phila , 31, 40-1. PMID: 14044626

CORNER GW. (1962). [The hospital of the Rockefeller Institute]. Scalpel (Brux) , 115, 18-21. PMID: 13881387

CORNER GW. (1960). The past of anatomy in the United States. Anat. Rec. , 137, 179-82. PMID: 13812017

CORNER GW. (1958). The role of anatomy in medical education. J Med Educ , 33, 1-9. PMID: 13491981

Hoffmann D, Adams JD, Lisk D, Fisenne I & Brunnemann KD. (1987). Toxic and carcinogenic agents in dry and moist snuff. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. , 79, 1281-6. PMID: 3480379

CORNER GW. (1956). The histological dating of the human corpus luteum of menstruation. Am. J. Anat. , 98, 377-401. PMID: 13362120 DOI.

CORNER GW. (1954). Anatomical terminology. Science , 120, 124-5. PMID: 13178670

PALLIE W, CORNER GW & WEDDELL G. (1954). Nerve terminations in the myometrium of the rabbit. Anat. Rec. , 118, 789-811. PMID: 13158877

CORNER GW & GOODWIN WE. (1953). Benjamin Franklin's bladder stone. J Hist Med Allied Sci , 8, 359-77. PMID: 13109181

CORNER GW & CSAPO A. (1953). Action of the ovarian hormones on uterine muscle. Br Med J , 1, 687-93. PMID: 13032456

CSAPO AI & CORNER GW. (1953). The effect of estrogen on the isometric tension of rabbit uterine strips. Science , 117, 162-4. PMID: 13038473

CORNER GW. (1953). The discovery of smooth muscle in the uterus. Acta Physiol Lat Am , 3, 67-70. PMID: 13138239

CSAPO AI & CORNER GW. (1952). The antagonistic effects of estrogen and progesterone on the staircase phenomenon in uterine muscle. Endocrinology , 51, 378-85. PMID: 13010191 DOI.

CORNER GW. (1952). The events of the primate ovarian cycle. Br Med J , 2, 403-9. PMID: 14944840

CSAPO A & CORNER GW. (1951). Shortening of uterine muscle at different temperatures. Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol. Med. , 78, 266-9. PMID: 14891987

CSAPO A & CORNER GW. (1951). In vitro contraception of pseudopregnant uterine muscle contrasted with estrous motility. Endocrinology , 49, 349-68. PMID: 14887648 DOI.

CORNER GW. (1951). Our knowledge of the menstrual cycle, 1910-1950. Lancet , 1, 919-23. PMID: 14825858

CORNER GW. (1950). The relation of the ovary to the menstrual cycle; notes on the history of a belated discovery. An Fac Med Univ Repub Montev Urug , 35, 758-66. PMID: 14771519

CHAPMAN EM & CORNER GW. (1948). The collection of radioactive iodine by the human fetal thyroid. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. , 8, 717-20. PMID: 18880940 DOI.

CORNER GW. (1947). Medical treasures in the library of the American Philosophical Society. Science , 106, 120. PMID: 20344397

HARTMAN CG & CORNER GW. (1947). Removal of the corpus luteum and of the ovaries of the rhesus monkey during pregnancy; observations and cautions. Anat. Rec. , 98, 539-46. PMID: 20255047

BARTELMEZ GW, CORNER GW & HARTMAN CG. (1946). Phases of the menstrual cycle in the macaque monkey. Anat. Rec. , 94, 512. PMID: 21020638

Corner GW. (1944). ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE IN THE OVARIAN FOLLICLES AND CORPORA LUTEA. Science , 100, 270-1. PMID: 17746133 DOI.

Corner GW. (1943). SPELLING OF THE ADJECTIVE "HYPOPHYSEAL". Science , 97, 67-8. PMID: 17799311 DOI.

Boyden EA, Clark SL, Danforth CH, Greulich WW & Corner GW. (1942). COMMITTEE ON ANATOMICAL NOMENCLATURE. Science , 96, 116. PMID: 17809984 DOI.

Lewis FT & Corner GW. (1938). THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF ANATOMISTS 1888-1938. Science , 87, 531-4. PMID: 17746961 DOI.

Corner GW. (1937). ANATOMICAL NOMENCLATURE. Science , 85, 428. PMID: 17814219 DOI.

Corner GW. (1937). ETYMOLOGY AND PRONUNCIATION OF THE WORD "OESTRUS" AND ITS DERIVATIVES. Science , 85, 197-8. PMID: 17844622 DOI.

Allen WM, Butenandt A, Corner GW & Slotta KH. (1935). NOMENCLATURE OF CORPUS LUTEUM HORMONE. Science , 82, 153. PMID: 17811944 DOI.

Corner GW. (1921). THE OVARIAN CYCLE OF SWINE. Science , 53, 420-1. PMID: 17773390 DOI.

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Modern Notes: progesterone | corpus luteum

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Historic Embryology - Menstrual 
1839 Corpus Luteum Structure | 1851 Corpus Luteum | 1933 Pap Smear | 1937 Corpus Luteum Hormone | 1942 Human Reproduction Hormones | 1951 Corpus Luteum | 1969 Ultrastructure of Development and Regression | 1969 Ultrastructure during Pregnancy
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Etymology and pronunciation of the word "oestrus" and its derivatives

George Corner
George Corner (1889 - 1981)

By George W. Corner


This word seems to offer more difficulties as to pronunciation and spelling than any other technical word in biology. Derived originally from the Greek oloxpos, signifying the gadfly, and taken over into Latin as oestrus, the word came secondarily to mean frenzy or strong desire. The Latin derivative is properly of masculine gender, following the Greek, but we are told by Tyson[1] that some grammarians gave it the neuter form oestrum as early as 400 a.v. In its more general senses the word became naturalized in English with the spelling oestrum and has been so used in prose and poetic literature by many writers (see Tyson’s article and the Oxford English Dictionary).


In the original Greek and Latin the meaning of the word already included, among other forms of excitement, the recurrent sexual impulse of animals. We owe its present definite technical use, however, to the late Walter Heape,[2] whose analysis and terminology of the phenomena of the reproductive cycle form the basis of research on that subject in the present century. As pointed out by Asdell,[3] Heape was not using the well-naturalized English word oestrum, which in English signifies any form of recurrent excitement (e.g., the poetic frenzy), but was deliberately adopting the Latin word oestrus for use as a specific technical term meaning in English “periodic sexual excitement of the female.” Writers having the latter significance in mind should, for the sake of precision, respect the difference and use the word oestrus.

It is scarcely necessary to point out that the nominative form is oestrus, and the adjectival form oestrous (cf. fungus, fungous; mucus, mucous).

As to pronunciation, the Greek and Latin diphthong of the first syllable has become in English merely a digraph, and in England is pronounced like long e, as in thief. Wyld’s Dictionary of “Received Standard English” gives this pronunciation only, The Oxford English Dictionary gives also the short e, as in yet, as an alternative pronunciation, but by the time the Shorter Oxford Dictionary reached the letter O, the compilers had discovered that the short e is an American usage. The word oestrum seems to have first appeared in the American dictionaries in the 1860 edition of Worcester and the 1864 Webster. In both eases the short pronunciation of e was alone given. Webster continued to give preference to this pronunciation, but since the 1909 revision cites also the long e as a non-preferred pronunciation. The Century Dictionary of 1911 gives the long e only, but on the other hand the 1913 Funk and Wagnalls gives the short e only.

It is evident, therefore, that the pronunciation of the non-technical word oestrum, and consequently of the technical term oestrus, oestrin, oestrogenic, ete., is ...

  1. Stuart L. Tyson, Sctexce, 612: 74, 1931.
  2. Walter Heape, Quart. Jour, Micros, Soi,, ns, 44: 1, 1901,
  3. Sidney A, Asdell, Screncr, 75: 131, 1932.