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What diagnostic method's name derives from a word that means "life sight" in Greek?

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Answer: biopsy

To perform a diagnosis by removing a tissue sample from a living body is to perform a biopsy. The word was coined in 1895 by Ernest Besnier from the Greek bios, life, and opsis, a sight.

The first OED citation is:

1895 E. Besnier in J. J. Pringle Pict. Atlas Skin Dis. 88: "Clinical teaching will now find in a 'biopsy' a valuable means of confirming or invalidating a dubious diagnosis."


I guess that an "autopsy" (self-sight?-- but geez, you can hardly do it yourself, can you?) would then more accurately be called a "thanatopsy" ("thanatos" being Greek for death)? Whaddayathink?
jacko at

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