Hugo provided evidence of ‘trench mouth’ from 1916.
The appalling conditions of the trenches caused various painful medical conditions, including trench foot (swelling and pain in the feet caused by prolonged exposure to damp and cold) and trench mouth (severe inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth). The earliest quotations we have found for these terms are from 1915 and 1917 respectively:
The so-called cases of trench pain or trench feet usually have no tissue destruction, no blebs, and not even any discolouration of the skin.
1915 Lancet 30 Jan., p. 230/1
The ‘Trench Mouth’, a development of these conditions in warfare, was responsible for much suffering.
1917 Oral Hygiene 7 p. 881
Were these terms used earlier in the war, perhaps by the soldiers themselves?
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To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War (1914–18), the OED is revising a set of vocabulary related to or coined during the war. Part of the revision process involves searching for earlier or additional evidence, and for this we need your help. Our first quotations are often from newspapers and magazines, and we know that there may well be earlier evidence in less-easily-accessible sources such as letters, diaries, and government records, many of which are now being made available in digital form for the first time
Posted by OED_Editor on 29 January 2014 16.33