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Main Entry: vac·cine
Pronunciation: vak-primarystresssemacronn, primarystressvak-secondarystresssemacronn
Function: noun
Etymology: from Latin vaccinus (adjective) "of or from cows," from vacca "cow" --related to BUCKAROO, VAQUERO
: a preparation of killed, weakened, or fully infectious microbes that is given (as by injection) to produce or increase immunity to a particular disease
Word History Toward the end of the 18th century, Edward Jenner, an English physician, made an important discovery. He observed that dairymaids who had the disease cowpox did not get smallpox, a much more serious disease. Working from this observation, he injected a person with material taken from another person's cowpox sores. He found out that this injection protected that person against the dreaded smallpox. He reported these findings in an article in which he used the Latin translation of cowpox, variolae vaccinae. The Latin word vaccinae was formed from the adjective vaccinus meaning "of or relating to cows." This word, in turn, was based on the noun vacca, meaning "cow." The cowpox material used for injections was then called vaccine. The injection itself was called vaccination. From this noun we created the verb vaccinate and the noun vaccinator.


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