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Prescription (pri'skraib) derived from Semitic language.

Latin prae-scri'bo.

1580c., "medical prescription," from Middle French récipé (15c.), from Latin recipere, second person imperative singular of recipere "to take" (see receive); word written by physicians at the head of prescriptions. Figurative use from 1640s. Meaning "instructions for preparing food" first recorded 1743. The original sense survives only in the pharmacist's abbreviation "recipe".

The roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or “radicals” (hence the term consonantal root). Such abstract consonantal roots are used in the formation of actual words by adding the vowels and non-root consonants (or “transfixes“) which go with a particular morphological category around the root consonants, in an appropriate way, generally following specific patterns. It is a peculiarity of Semitic linguistics that a large majority of these consonantal roots are triliterals (although there are a number of quadriliterals, and in some languages also biliterals).

A triliteral or triconsonantal root (Hebrew: שרש‎, šoreš; Arabic: جذر ثلاثي‎, jiḏr ṯulāṯī; Syriac, šeršā) is a root containing a sequence of three consonants. The following are some of the forms which can be derived from the triconsonantal root k-t-b (general overall meaning “to write”) in Hebrew and Arabic.

Traditionally in the Semitic languages, forms with more than four basic consonants (i.e. consonants not introduced by morphological inflection or derivation) were occasionally found in nouns — mainly loanwords from other languages — but never in verbs. However, in modern Israeli Hebrew, syllables are allowed to begin with a sequence of two consonants (a relaxation of the situation in early Semitic, where only one consonant was allowed), and this has opened the door for a very small set of loan words to manifest apparent five root-consonant forms, such as טלגרף tilgref “he telegraphed”.


A prescription is a health-care program implemented by a physician or other qualified practitioner in the form of instructions that govern the plan of care for an individual patient. A qualified practitioner might be a physician, physician assistant, dentist, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, psychologist, or other health care provider. Prescriptions may include orders to be performed by a patient, caretaker, nurse, pharmacist, physician, other therapist, or by automated equipment, such as an intravenous infusion pump. Formerly, prescriptions often included detailed instructions regarding compounding of medications but as medications have increasingly become pre-packaged manufactured products, the term "prescription" now usually refers to an order that a pharmacist dispense and that a patient take certain medications.


1-2. Etymology–General Linguistic Section.

A direction, usually written, by the physician to the pharmacist for the preparation and use of a medicine or remedy.
Achariston: The two recipes in PBerol inv. 1944v seem, thus, to follow a similar pattern, juxtaposing an achariston of greater strength with one of lesser potency, achieved in the Berlin papyrus through a drastic reduction of the ingredients to three. The metals are eliminated entirely, leaving only a milder astringent compounded with the analgesic and binding agent.



Prescriptions are also used for things that are not strictly regulated as a prescription drug. Prescribers will often give non-prescription drugs out as prescriptions because drug benefit plans may reimburse the patient only if the over-the-counter medication is taken under the direction of a medical practitioner. Conversely, if a medication is available over-the-counter, prescribers may ask patients if they want it as a prescription or purchase it themselves. Pharmacists may or may not be able to price the medication competitively with over-the-counter equivalents. If the patient wants the medication not under prescription, the prescriber is usually careful to give the medication name to the patient on a blank piece of paper to avoid any confusion with a prescription. This is applied to non-medications as well. For example, crutches, and registered massage therapy may be reimbursed under some health plans, but only if given out by a prescriber as a prescription.

Dioscorides, Materia medica I 101.3 (I 93.19–24 Wellmann): τὸ δὲ κόμμι τῆς ἀκάνθης διαφέρει τὸ σκωληκοειδές, ὑελίζον, διαυγές, ἄξυλον, εἶτα τὸ λευκόν· τὸ δὲ ῥητινῶδες καὶ ῥυπαρὸν ἄχρηστον.

Galen, Comp. sec. loc. I (XII 701.15–702.14 Kühn), on astringents, where erica seed-pod appears with rose petals among the moderate astringents, while acacia was among the stronger ones: ὀφθαλμικὰς δυνάμεις ἐμβαλλομένων ὅσα στύφειν
πέφυκε. τὰ μὲν οὖν μετρίως τοιαῦτα τὰς ἐπιῤῥοὰς ἀποκρούεται, τὰ δὲ σφοδρὰ πλέον ὀδυνᾷ, τραχύνοντα τοὺς χιτῶνας ἢ τὴν τῶν ἐπιῤῥεόντων ὁρμὴν ἀναστέλλει. μίγνυται δέ ποτε χρησίμως αὐτῶν ὀλίγον ταῖς καλουμέναις ὀξυδερκέσι δυνάμεσι συνάγοντα καὶ σφίγγοντα τὴν οὐσίαν τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν. τὰ δὲ μετρίως στύφοντα χρησιμώτατα μέν ἐστι ταῖς καλουμέναις ὀφθαλμίαις, χρήσιμα δὲ καὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις σχεδὸν ἁπάσαις διαθέσεσιν ἑλκῶν τε καὶ φλυκταινῶν καὶ ῥευμάτων. ἔστι δὲ τοιαῦτα ῥόδων φύλλα καὶ ἄνθη καὶ χυλὸς ἐρείκης τε καρπὸς, ὅ τε τῆς νάρδου στάχυς, ἔτι τε τὸ τοῦ μαλαβάθρου φύλλον, ὅ τε κρόκος καὶ τὸ λύκιον, ἥ θ' ὑποκυστὶς ὀνομαζομένη. σφοδροτέρας δὲ τούτων στύψεως ἥ τε ἀκακία μετέχει καὶ τὸ ὀμφάκινον τοῦ γένους τῶν χυλῶν ὄντα καὶ αὐτὰ καὶ τὸ βαλαύστιόν τε καὶ οἱ κύτινοι καὶ αἱ κηκίδες αἱ ὀμφακίτιδες τοῦ γένους εἰσὶ τῶν ἱκανῶς στυφόντων.


For examples of the statikon type of kollyria in OBodl II 2181.1, 2187.9, and perhaps 2182.1, see the revised texts in C. Préaux, ‘Les prescriptions médicales des ostraca grecs de la Bibliothèque Bodléenne’, CE 31 (1956) 134–48.

I. Andorlini, "P.Grenf. I 52: note farmacologiche", in BASP 18 (1981) pp. 1-25 et pl. I.

C. Fabricius, Galens Excerpte aus älteren Pharmakologen (‘Ars Medica’ 2, Berlin–New York 1972) 130 and 196.

Cf. Gazza 1956, 76; Préaux 1956, 140; André 1972, 131–2; Nielsen 1974, 25–6; Youtie 1975, 560; Youtie 1976, 124–6; André 1985, 2; Durling 1993, 25–6; Kramer–J. 1993, 145; Andorlini 1995b, 23–4 (PSI Congr. XXI 3 III.8n.); Fausti 1997, 100; Fournet–Magdelaine 2001, 158 (GMP I 14.7n.); Clackson 2004, 82 (PHorak 15.7n.); Mitthof, GMP II 8, p. 131.


E. CPGM reference(s)

GMP I 10-11; GMP I 12; GMP I 13;

GMP II 4 (Medical Prescription for Eye-salves); GMP II 5 (A receptarium from Tebtunis); GMP II 7; GMP II 11.


Isabella Andorlini

Accepted term: 20-Ago-2014