There are many words in the English language which make no sense. One of them is ‘Orthopaedics’. You see the word Orthopaedics comes from the Greek words Ortho – straight and Paedia – which means ‘child; so orthopaedics literally means “Straightening children!” Now orthopaedic surgeons are much more than 'Straightners of Children'. This word refers to one of the earliest medical treatments given to children born with malformed spines and limbs that would give them abnormal postures. This practice gave the name for the profession. How inadequate. I personally feel the word should be ‘Osteiatrics’. Osteo is the Greek word for bone and iatria means medical healing. So when we put the two together we get ‘Osteiatrics’, just like in Paediatrics. That aptly describes everything that Orthopaedic surgeons do. They medically heal bones, and therefore they should be Osteiatrians / Osteiatric surgeons. However I DO NOT PLAN to go about demanding a change in the name of this profession for the following reasons:
1. I do not want to irritate the orthopaedic community which wisely and rightly spends its time and resources on curing and finding better cures for debilitating bone problems.
2. I do not wish to look inspired by idiots who go around changing names for nothing. For e.g. Bombay to Mumbai, Calcutta to Kolkatta, Madras to Chennai and Bangalore to Bengaluru and so on. (I wonder why someone hasn’t yet made any noises about changing Delhi to Hastinapur)
3. I do not want to be considered insane.
But I still think that Orthopaedics should be Osteiatrics. That would be one more step towards logical words and spellings.
P.S.: My apologies to my father, an orthopaedic surgeon himself, for breaching / intruding / infringing / violating the name of his profession.