Etymology
Advertisement
leprosy (n.)

name given to various chronic skin diseases, later in more restricted use, 1530s, probably from leprous + -y (4). First used in Coverdale Bible, where it renders Hebrew cara'ath, which apparently was a comprehensive term for skin diseases. Also known as Hansen's disease (1938) for Norwegian physician Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) who in 1871 discovered the bacillus that causes it.

The Middle English name for the disease was leper (mid-13c.), from Old French liepre and Latin lepra (see leper). But as the sense of this shifted after late 14c. to mean "person with leprosy," English began coining new nouns for the disease: lepri, leprosity, lepruse all date from mid-15c. but are now obsolete. A place for their treatment is a leprosarium (1846) or leprosary (1869, from French).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
leper (n.)
"one afflicted with leprosy," late 14c., earlier "the disease leprosy," from Late Latin lepra, from Greek lepra "leprosy," noun use of fem. of lepros (adj.) "scaly, scabby, rough, leprous," related to lepein "to peel," from lepos, lepis "a scale," from PIE root *lep- (1) "to peel," which also yields words for "something delicate and weak," via the notion of "small shaving, flake, scale" (cognates: Latin lepidus "pleasant, charming, fine, elegant, effeminate," lepos "pleasantness, agreeableness;" Old English læfer "rush, reed; metal plate;" Lithuanian lopas "patch, rag, cloth," lepus "soft, weak, effeminate").

Originally in Middle English this was the word for the disease itself (mid-13c., via Old French lepre); the shift in meaning to "person with leprosy" perhaps developed in Anglo-French, or is because the -er ending resembled an agent-noun affix. By mid-15c. other nouns for the disease were being coined (see leprosy). In English lepra also was an old name for psoriasis (late 14c.).
Related entries & more 
leprous (adj.)
"infected with leprosy," early 13c., leprus, from Old French lepros (Modern French lépreux), from Late Latin leprosus, from Latin lepra "leprosy" (see leper).
Related entries & more 
leprophilia (n.)
"strong abnormal attraction to people with leprosy," 1959 (Graham Greene), from combining form of leper (q.v.) + -philia. Related: Leprophil. Leprophobia is from 1888.
Related entries & more 
isolationist (n.)

1899 in reference to U.S. foreign policy, "one who advocates a policy of non-participation in foreign affairs" (earlier in reference to treatment of leprosy), from isolation + -ist. As an adjective from 1920. Isolationism is attested in a general sense by 1902; in a U.S. geopolitical sense by 1919 in reference to opposition to joining the League of Nations.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
elephantiasis (n.)
1580s, from Greek elephantos, genitive of elephas "elephant" (see elephant) + -iasis "pathological or morbid condition." It refers to two diseases, one characterized by thickening of a body part (E. Arabum), the other, older meaning is "disease characterized by skin resembling an elephant's" (E. Græcorum, also called Egyptian leprosy). In Middle English, elephancy (late 14c.).
Related entries & more 
bleach (n.)

1881, "a bleaching agent;" 1882, "an act of bleaching;" probably directly from bleach (v.). The Old English noun blæce meant "leprosy;" Late Old English had also blæco "paleness," and Middle English had blech "whitening or bleaching agent," but the modern words seem to be independent late 19c. formations from the verb.

Related entries & more 
alb (n.)
late Old English albe "white linen robe" worn by priests, converts, etc., from Late Latin alba (in tunica alba or vestis alba "white vestment"), fem. of albus "white," from PIE root *albho- "white" (source also of Greek alphos "white leprosy," alphiton "barley meal;" Old High German albiz, Old English elfet "swan," literally "the white bird;" Old Church Slavonic and Russian lebedi, Polish łabędź "swan;" Hittite alpash "cloud").
Related entries & more 
measles (n.)

infectious disease causing eruptions of rose-colored papulae, early 14c., plural of Middle English masel "little spot,"which isperhaps from Middle Dutch masel "blemish" (in plural "measles") or Middle Low German masele, both from Proto-Germanic *mas- "spot, blemish" (source also of Old High German masla "blood-blister," German Masern "measles").

There might have been an Old English cognate, but if so it has not been recorded. "The phonetic development is irregular" [OED] and the form might have been influenced by Middle English mēsel "leprous; a leper; leprosy" (late 13c., obsolete from mid-16c.), which is from Old French mesel and directly from Medieval Latin misellus "a wretch," noun use of an adjective meaning "wretched," a diminutive of Latin miser "unhappy, wretched, pitiable, in distress."

Related entries & more 
alopecia (n.)

late 14c., allopicia, "falling of the hair," also a form of leprosy involving loss of facial hair, from Medieval Latin alopecia, from Greek alōpekia, a disease of the skin, also alōpekiasis, from alōpēx, alōpekos "fox." Also known as fox-sickness. Usually explained as transferred to the human condition from the animal's susceptibility to mange.

The term alopekia is derived from [alōpēx], a fox, and would seem to be intended to represent a kind of baldness with scattered hairs, which we meet with in animals suffering under the mange—for example, the canine genus, of which the fox is an example. [Medical Times and Gazette, Oct. 22, 1870]

Other theories are that it is so named "from the fox's being supposed to lose its hair sooner than any other quadruped" [Hoblyn's "Dictionary of Terms Used in Medicine"].

Burne the heade of a great Ratte and myngle it wyth the droppynge of a Beare or of a hogge & anointe the head, it heleth the desease called Allopicia. [Humphrey Llwyd, "The Treasury of Healthe," 1585]
Related entries & more