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If you are English, you receive one from the doctor and the other from a cook – or these days you are more likely to find the latter in a magazine, newspaper or by searching the internet!

If you are Greek, the difference lies in the taste – the name is the same! The one from a doctor invariably leaves a bad taste in the mouth whereas vine leaves stuffed according to grandmother’s recipe are mouth-watering! The same Greek word (συνταγή) is used for both. It has its origin in the verb ‘συντάσσω’ meaning ‘to create or compose written text’.

Patience is a virtue

Whilst we are on the subject of doctors and by extension ill health, it is interesting to reflect on how different cultures view the same concept by analysing the specific meaning and origins of particular terms.

It is generally acknowledged that one must bear the suffering involved in ill health with fortitude (not that there is much choice in the matter), hence the origin of the English word ‘patient’.

The Greek word for ‘patience’ is much more frequently bandied by friends and relatives of the sick, together with the all embracing term ‘περαστικά’ which translates literally as ‘may it pass’ and is the rough equivalent of ‘get well soon’. However, the Greek word for ‘patient’ is ‘ασθενής’ and it is formed with the privative prefix ‘α’, combined with the word ‘σθένος’ – meaning ‘strength’ – thus implying lack of strength and therefore its opposite i.e. weakness.

The same Greek word is used by meteorologists to describe winds as ‘light’ and also forms part of the phrase ‘the weaker sex’.