Pronounced: FRIB-uhl, verb/noun

Notes: I don’t think I’ve run across this word, and I could not guess the definition

Yesterday’s word

The word mithridatize means “to develop immunity to a poison by gradually increasing the dose”

First usage

This word came into English in the mid-1800s

Background / Comments

I like reading mysteries; especially the older classical mysteries: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Rex Stout, and Sherlock Holmes stories. In many of the stories poison is used, and the Dorothy Sayers book “Strong Poison”, which features mithridatism (however, it doesn’t use that term). I don’t think all poisons work this way, but (as I understand it), it is possible to mithridatize oneself against arsenic. Our word comes from a person: Mithridates VI, king of Pontus (a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea – now part of Turkey), who reigned from 120-63 BC. It is said of him that he acquired immunity to poison by ingesting gradually larger doses of it. His father was poisoned, which explains his interest in being able to develop a tolerance to poison. He was defeated in battle by Pompey; the story is that he didn’t want to be taken alive, so he tried to poison himself, but failed due to his immunity. So, he asked a servant to stab him to death.

Published by Richard

Christian, lover-of-knowledge, Texan, and other things.

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