dementia praecox


dementia prae·​cox -ˈprē-ˌkäks How to pronounce dementia praecox (audio)

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, "precocious dementia"

Note: The Latin collocation dementia praecox was apparently first used as a diagnostic label by the Bohemian-born Jewish psychiatrist Arnold Pick (1851-1924), in "Ueber primäre chronische Demenz (so. Dementia praecox) im jugendlichen Alter," Prager medicinische Wochenschrift, Band 16 (1891), pp. 312-15. The term had been used earlier descriptively, from at least 1878 (Heinrich Schüle, Handbuch der Geisteskrankheiten, Band 16 of Handbuch der speciellen Pathologie und Therapie, Leipzig, p. 258 passim). Dementia praecox may or may not be a translation of French démence précoce, used by the French psychiatrist Bénédict Morel (1809-73), probably first in 1852 (Études cliniques: Traité théorique et pratique des maladies mentales, tome 1, Paris, p. 282).

First Known Use

1899, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dementia praecox was in 1899

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Cite this Entry

“Dementia praecox.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition

dementia praecox

dementia prae·​cox -ˈprē-ˌkäks How to pronounce dementia praecox (audio)

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