Defibrillator: To Un-fibre

Defibrillator – a device for treating life-threatening heart problems.

When passing a defibrillator this week I couldn’t help but wonder what it was to be ‘fibrillated’, it’s not a word we use, yet defibrillator runs off the tongue, and the devices have become ubiquitous in modern developed society.

‘Defibrillation’ was first coined in 1940 and the ‘fibrillation’ (dated from 1842) part comes from the word ‘fibullate’ which, in turn, dates back to 1798 (still considered modern English) and comes from the Latin ‘fibrilla’, which is a form of ‘fibra’ meaning fibre – referring to the fibrous nature of the muscles of the heart.


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