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Problem: Are there any sources that I could cite in an academic paper for the etymology of "trauma" (noun), perhaps which come from a reliable source? I am particularly searching for the first recorded year in which it was used and its meaning at that time point.

Context: This post is somewhat helpful and at present I am using the Online Etymology Dictionary to cite its origin to 1690s where it was referred to as "physical wound" in medical Latin. However, I am wondering if any experts in linguistics have any recommendations?

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  • The (full, unabridged, multi-volume) Oxford English Dictionary is the standard source for the history of the English language. It is probably available online via your academic library.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 23 at 11:57
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    @StuartF OED and OED appear to share much the same data. OED (in the question) says 1690s whereas OED (in the library) says 1684.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 23 at 12:54
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There is an extra-detail in the article Psychotraumatology in Greece from the European Journal of Psychotraumatology that says:

The word trauma comes from the Greek trauma (τραύμα) meaning trauma wound, alteration of trōma; akin to Greek titrōskein = to wound, tetrainein = to pierce.

Then you might want to look for Caruth, Cathy, Unclaimed Experience. It speaks about the term being first used as a physical wound but then, with Freud, it begins to be used in psychology:

In Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History, Cathy Caruth discusses the origin of the word "trauma," and the way Freud's analysis of it has shaped our modern understanding of the word:

...the Greek trauma, or 'wound,' originally referred to an injury inflicted on a body. In its later usage, particularly in the medical and psychiatric literature, and most centrally in Freud's text, the term trauma is understood as a wound inflicted not upon the body but upon the mind. But what seems to be suggested by Freud in Beyond the pleasure Principle is that the wound of the mind—the breach in the mind's experience of time, self, and the world—is not, like the wound of the body, a simple and healable event, but rather an event that...is experienced too soon, too unexpect edly, to be fully-known and is therefore not available to consciousness until it imposes itself again, repeatedly, in the nightmares and repetitive actions of the survivor. (3-4)

I am not sure you will find a detailed historic evolution of this word, but encyclopedias would be a good place to start.

This thesis also looks promising on at least providing titles of studies that speak about the origin and evolution of use of this word.

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    Please, no images of text. This is important for those who use screen readers (mainly the blind) as they can only dictate text. I got you started with an OCR of the image, but I didn’t have time to proofread it.
    – Laurel
    Jul 23 at 11:23
  • @Laurel Yes, I know the rule but couldn't find an online version of the book. Thanks for finding it!
    – fev
    Jul 23 at 11:24
  • @fev If there's no online version to cut-and-paste the text, then you need to transcribe it.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 23 at 12:54
  • @AndrewLeach Yes, fair enough. I am really grateful to Laurel.
    – fev
    Jul 23 at 12:58
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    I didn't find the book. :) If you search for OCR online you can find websites that will extract the text from any image. (With varying accuracy, depending on how clear the fonts in the image are.)
    – Laurel
    Jul 23 at 13:02

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