1721, "loss of feeling," medical Latin, from Greek anaisthesia "want of feeling or perception, lack of sensation (to pleasure or pain)," abstract noun from an- "without" (see an- (1)) + aisthesis "feeling," from PIE root *au- "to perceive." For the abstract noun ending, see -ia. As "a procedure for the prevention of pain in surgical operations," from 1846. Aesthesia "capacity for feeling" is attested in English from 1853, perhaps a back-formation.
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