The childlike wonder, creativity, observations and questioning are all qualities that we scientists try to bring to our research and teaching. The observations of a child may seem insignificant to some but I am amazed when PharmKid comes up with questions or associations that I cannot explain. I don’t blog about this much unless it has something to do with scientific queries, such as our top-traffic answer and follow-up to her question about where helium comes from.
The latest question was fed by us recently adopting a dog and driving past a Veterans Administration Medical Center. I tried to explain to PharmKid that the VA takes care of people who fought in wars for us to keep us safe and free (she also already understands that while we don’t agree with the rationale for the Iraq War, we strongly support anyone who was called to serve there.)
So the followup question was, “Does that mean that veterinarians take care of dogs that fought in wars?”
After I answered no, she asked whether it meant that veterinarians take care of dogs that have injuries like those of veterans who fought in wars. Pretty interesting synthesis but I was already late for work and promised that we’d look it up on the GreatBigBookOfEverything when we got home in the evening.
Had I taken Latin, I would’ve been a good parent and been able to answer on the spot. Both words do indeed derive from Latin.
Veteran is a derivation of the Latin vetus, meaning “old.”
Veterinarian is a derivation of the Latin veterinae, meaning “draught animals.”
According to Wikipedia, TheGreatBigSometimesAccurateBookOfEverything,
The word “veterinarian” was first used in English by Thomas Browne (1605-1682).
So, it appears to be coincidence that both words begin with “vet” but I’ve never given it a single thought. Many thanks to the PharmKid for teaching me something this week.