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If we want our feet checked, we go to a podiatrist, if we want our hearts checked, we go to a cardiologist. Why, then, if we have a hand problem, do we go to a hand surgeon or a hand doctor and not a manologist?

  • If there were a thing, it would be a "xeriatrist" or "cheriatry," not "manologist." If "podiatry" is the medical specialty for the feet, then the medical specialty for the hands would be "xeriatry" or "cheriatry." That's because the names are based on Greek, not Latin. The word for "foot" in Greek is "podi." The word for hand in Greek is "xeri." The X, though, which is the letter chi, often gets transliterated as "ch" into languages that use the Latin alphabet, which in English gets pronounced like a K. – Billy Jul 11 '18 at 4:21
  • @sumelic But some people do go to a "manicurist" , or at least have their nails "manicured" don't they? – WS2 Jul 11 '18 at 7:43
  • What I can't figure out is why they call foot pain a "face plant" (or whatever that Latinized/Greekified version of "face plant" is that they use). – Hot Licks Jul 12 '18 at 1:46
  • @WS2: Yes, and it seems that "chiriatry" has occasionally been used to refer to the art of manicuring. – herisson Jul 12 '18 at 2:22
  • @sumelic So where does "chiropody" come from? That's to do with feet isn't it? – WS2 Jul 12 '18 at 7:02
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Well, a word "chiriatry" with the meaning "medical treatment of the hand or hands" supposedly exists (English Word Information). But this word seems to be rare enough that it doesn't actually have a single, specific meaning that is widely recognized—that web page says it can also mean "Healing by the laying on of hands", and The Text Book of Chiropody (by Maurice J. Lewi, 1914) says "'chiriatry' is the only correct scientific expression for manicuring".

As Billy indicated in a comment, podiatrist and cardiologist are based on Greek, not Latin: the Latin roots for "foot" and "heart" are ped- and cord-. The Greek root for "hand" is χειρ-, but it's common to use Latinized forms in the composition of English words, so usually it shows up as chir- (as in the word chiral); occasionally variant transliterations like cheir- and cher- are used. The Modern Greek word χέρι is related, but modern Greek is traditionally not the source of English classical compounds.

The words chirology and chirologist also exist, but don't refer to medicine but rather palm-reading, apparently. "Cherology/cheirology" has been used in reference to sign languages.

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