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I am translating a historical tv series about the Ottoman Empire. So in the 15th century do you ask for medication or medicine? Or is there a more appropriate word for it?

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3 Answers 3

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I just checked my (old) Oxford English Dictionary. Medicament is attested from 1541, medicine in the sense of "any substance or preparation..." from 1225, and medication for a substance only from 1796, and then only for botanical use. I guess we'd need a more recent edition to look into its use for humans.

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Medicine is the older word (from Latin via Middle English). I believe medication is AmE, and therefore non-existent in the 15th century. See oxforddictionaries.com

Of course, they didn't speak English in the Ottoman Empire. If you are translating for a contemporary AmE audience, I'd use medication.

As always AmE improves on the language, as medicine, strictly, is the science, and medication is the product. BrE is only just accepting the latter word.

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  • Much AmE existed in the 15th century and fell out of use in England.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 15:50
  • Medicine is attested in the sense of a substance from the 13th century; as a label for the discipline it is attested from the 14th century. How is it "strictly" the science? "Medication" is strictly the act of medicating; if we want a set of strictly distinct terms, we should revive "medicament."
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 16:09
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In medieval times, which lasted until the 15th century, there wasn't really a concept of medicine like we have today, or rather there were many competing concepts, from Christianity, the ancient Greeks, pagans etc. So, I don't think there's a simple answer to this.

Have a read of this wikipedia page:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_medicine_of_Western_Europe

See also: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=medicine

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