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Undefined Terms

Here is a list of "Causes of Death" that have no definitions. Please help to define these terms. I found many of these terms during my research but most have come from the web pages I have listed on the links page. Some of the terms have been repeated from webpage to webpage without anyone actually checking the facts. A few are probably correct but most are just opinions . Besides these borderline definitions, there are also several incorrect definitions on each webpage. The problem is so widespread that I challenge anyone to show me a web page with a list that has no mistakes. As I find a good definition, the term will be moved to the Alphabetical lists. Thanks for helping.

List of Undefined Terms Notes, Opinions and Possible Definitions
Air Swellings Gas swelled abdomen, bloated intestines.
Black Hives Cynanche Trachealis ?

Example from an 1882 Death Record from Michigan

Black Thing Gangrene ?

Example from a 1734 London, England Death Record:

Bladder in Throat Diphtheria ?
Bleeding Tumor  

Example from an 1854 death certificate from England:

Blue Lung

This comes from a book called "Primary Colors" by Alexander Theroux. In the essay on the color blue, he writes: "And what about the dreadful disease called Blue Lung? Hustler Minnesota Fats supposedly got it from years of inhaling pool (cue) chalk. "That's the only time I've heard of any such animal, but it makes perfect sense to me. We have black lung and brown lung, why not blue too? And chalk dust is easily inhaled and can't be good for you.

That’s a good one. I’ll have to do some research on this. Of course pool chalk is usually blue so it might be a related.

Blue Plague Typhus or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. US servicemen in WW2 were vaccinated against this condition
Brain Trouble The original death record for Belle Gregory, Book C Page C 365 Kansas City, MO, May 5, 1904 states that she died of Brain Trouble. Any clues on what that would be?
Broken Compensation Failure of Compensation. An organic disease of the Heart.
Bull Hives Bold Hives, Stretch Hives, Little Red Hives
Choking Disease Diphtheria ?
Coast fever from an account that happened in Mozambique in 1854.
Continental fever ?
Corals in their Hands "Red coral was regarded as the proper material for a baby to cut its teeth on from the Middle Ages until the end of the nineteenth century, when it was supplanted by hard rubber and then by plastics. A child's teething stick was often referred to as a coral." Thanks to Susan C. Mitchell for this information.
Corn Rage The only condition that springs to mind is ergot poisoning. Take a look at my entry for St Anthony's Fire but also read below
Crop Sickness Sickness from an overextended stomach, usually from excess eating or drinking.
Decay of Nature Debility
Distemper Always shown with this definition: "Usually animal disease with malaise, discharge from nose and throat, anorexia". If this is an animal disease, than what was the actual disease that the person died from?
Distemper Used here in the historical sense: Disturbed condition of the body or mind; ill health, illness; a mental or physical disorder; a disease or ailment.

An excess of humor; humoral imbalance.

Dock Fever Venereal disease. [Grose1823]. Dock: to lie with a woman.
Domestic Illness Mental breakdown, depression
Dynamic Plexus Organic disease?

Example from a 1907 Death Record from Virginia:

Eating Ulcer Peptic ulcer, pain occurs soon after eating.
Egyptian Dropsy ?
Great White Plague Tuberculosis ?
Heart Sickness Condition caused by loss of salt from body. Extreme depression of spirits. [Webster]
Heat Sickness A condition marked especially by cessation of sweating and extremely high body temperature, caused by a loss of salt from the body.
Hectical Complaint A remittent fever with stages of chilliness, heat, and sweat; (rare) a person suffering with tuberculosis.
Holy Fire Saint Anthony’s Fire ?
Hoopp Disease Hooping Cough ? Pertussis.

Example from an 1881 Military Hospital record in Hampshire, England:

Indian Rash
My 67 year old wife, just disclosed that when she was a child growing up in New Orleans in a orphans home, she as well as many of the others girls in the school had a  what they called  Indian Rash. They treated this condition by wrapping them in gauze so to help keep them from scratching the small blisters from what she remembers.  She remembers they were not allowed to take baths, with this condition.
Inward Complaint Stomach or Bowel Problem ? (Appears on a Scottish death record March 11 1843 for a child of 3-weeks – she is buried at the Arbroath Abbey).
Jackson's March This is a mistake copied from list to list. Jacksonian March is the correct term.
Kidney Consumption Diabetes ?
Kruchhusten Another mistake copied from list to list. Keuchhusten is the correct term. It is German for Whooping cough.
Long sickness Tuberculosis ?
Lung sickness Tuberculosis ?
Madness disease Von Hippel-Lindau disease.

The most infamous feud in American folklore, the long-running battle between the Hatfields and McCoys, may be partly explained by a rare, inherited disease that can lead to hair-trigger rage and violent outbursts. Dozens of McCoy descendants apparently have the disease, which causes high blood pressure, racing hearts, severe headaches and too much adrenaline and other "fight or flight" stress hormones.

Mariner disease Scurvy ?
Marking Fife (1976) offers the common definition of marking: ...if a woman’s emotions get sufficiently stirred up during pregnancy, then the fetus itself may feel and register the shock as a blemish on the body, as a deformity, or as a pattern or behavior. The mark frequently resembles the object or circumstance which produced the mother’s emotional state (p. 273-74)
Meridian's Disease From an inquiry -  "I have a great great grandfather who died in the Civil War (Confederacy). He was probably in Mississippi at the time, since that is the area where his unit was stationed. His death record says he died of Meridian's Disease. What is that. One contact located a woman who said it was a heart problem, possibly valves, but when I checked her reference, it did not seem to be there."

I have another possible explanation. Meridian is a name of a town in Mississippi. It could refer to a common disease that ran through the city in the 1800’s, possibly malaria or yellow fever.

Michigan Rash From an article: "They referred euphemistically to this cutaneous disease as a ‘breaking out’ an ‘impurity of the blood’ a ‘rash,’ and so on while perhaps the person giving it these mild names was really putting into practice the old peculiar manner of scratching that used to belong to something worse than the ‘rash.’ "
Morbid Sore Throat Probably the same as Putrid Sore Throat or Diphtheria. (It was mentioned in a book (historical fiction) about 18th century Scotland.)
Morfine Cough Morphine Poisoning
Natural Causes Means a death not from homicide, accident or suicide. Possibly issued by a coroner after an inquest. As most coroners are lawyers rather than doctors, the certificates they issue tend to be a verdict rather than a diagnosis. The policy in the UK is to destroy inquest records after 30 years, although some survive. Most UK inquests are reported by local newspapers, which may but I don't think they are available abroad
Natural Decay Debility ?
Paravariola Alastrim ?
Plague of Europe Smallpox ?
??? Pneumonia

Something Pneumonia?

Poverty Blood Pernicious Anemia ?
Putrid Flux Bacillary dysentery ?
Samoan Pox Alastrim ?
Shaded Birth Found term - shaded birth - as cause of death of mother following death of infant, probably stillborn.  Occurred in IL probably in 1850s or 1860s.
Simple Smiling Jesus Spinal meningitis, the grimaces that often accompany the disease make the interpreted name seem reasonable ("folk" renderings for long names they hear but not quite correctly)
Sinking Chills ?

Sinking means dying, so I assume the patient has chills relating to his imminent death.

Solarisation Sunstroke?

Exposure to the rays of the sun. [Webster]

Sore Throat Distemper Any of various inflammations of the tonsils, pharynx, or larynx characterized by pain in swallowing
Splints Describes an illness where there are swellings on the ribs. This could be rickets, where there is swelling of the ribs where they join the breast bone (looks rather like a necklace, so is often called a rachitic rosary)
Stock Shock This term was used in Kentucky and may be some kind of animal related accident or head injury
Stop Disease ?
The Drier Cholera or any gastrointestinal disorder causing death by dehydration (common in America during the time of the Civil War)
Thrash Thrush ?
Throat Distemper Diphtheria or quinsy ?
Trench Nephritis Acute nephritis, glomerulonephritis
War Nephritis Acute nephritis, glomerulonephritis
White Liver It is used to describe a woman with a very high sex drive. In often cases a woman of East Indian decent is given this label as there is a myth that they have a high sex drive. White-liver is a syndrome identified by an insatiable sexual appetite.

White-liver is a syndrome identified by an insatiable sexual appetite. It seems to be primarily attributed to women, but can refer to a man. Randolph (1947) identifies white-liver as meaning over-sexed.

Wine Disease Alcoholism, Wine Madness, oinomania.
Winter Typhoid ?
Winter Typhus ?
Yellow Jacket This is another mistake copied to almost every website with a list of causes of death. Yellow Jack is the correct term. Yellow fever was a common cause for quarantining ships and became known as yellow jack because quarantined ships flew a yellow flag. A jack is another name for flag.
Yellow Janders Jaundice ?