Definition of caduceus
plural caduceiplay \-sē-ˌī\
1 : the symbolic staff of a herald; specifically : a representation of a staff with two entwined snakes and two wings at the top
2 : an insignia bearing a caduceus and symbolizing a physician
Did You Know?
The Greek god Hermes, who served as herald and messenger to the other gods, carried a winged staff entwined with two snakes. The staff of Aesculapius, the god of healing, had one snake and no wings. The word ''caduceus," from Latin, is a modification of Greek karykeion, from karyx, meaning "herald." Strictly speaking, "caduceus" should refer only to the staff of the herald-god Hermes (Mercury to the Romans), but in practice the word is often applied to the one-snake staff as well. You might logically expect the staff of Aesculapius to be the symbol of the medical profession-and indeed, that is the symbol used by the American Medical Association. But you will also quite frequently see the true caduceus used as a medical symbol.
Origin of caduceus
Latin, modification of Greek karykeion, from karyx, kēryx herald; akin to Sanskrit kāru singer
First Known Use: 1577
Medical Definition of caduceus
plural caducei \-sē-ˌī\play
: a medical insignia bearing a representation of a staff with two entwined snakes and two wings at the top:a: one sometimes used to symbolize a physician but often considered to be an erroneous representation—compare staff of aesculapiusb: the emblem of a medical corps or a department of the armed services (as of the United States Army)
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