trench foot/mouth noun earlier than 1915/1917

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?

* * *

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
Comments: 4

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  • Denton Thomas

    “New soldiers’ disease,” Altoona Mirror July 10, 1916, page 2 uses the term “trench mouth”, and gives a detailed description.

  • hugooooo

    trench mouth, 20th June 1916

    United Press Service
    LONDON, June 20 –(By mail)–…
    A new, unnamed disease has made its appearance…

    “Trench mouth” is the popular name of the ailment, but the British Tommies call it the “foot and mouth disease,” or sometimes, “lumpy jaw.”

    The Evening herald (Klamath Falls, Or.), 08 July 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

  • Matthew Ward

    Trench foot plagued the soldiers freezing in the waterlogged trenches of Crimea. Have you looked at ‘An old-time reminiscence of trench foot : Crimea, 1854-55’ by David Greig, for early references to trench foot?

  • Bryn_Wordhunt

    The Swan Hill Guardian and Lake
    Boga Advocate,
    15th April, 1915, page 2 [Col.5], has:

    Frostbite at the FrontDr. King Brown, speaking at the Institute of Hygiene in London on the 3rd March said that up to 24th January there were 9715 cases of frostbite in the trenches, and 50 per cent of the men, it was calculated, would not return to the firing line. He said the disease had received
    other names trench foot, chilled foot, trench frost bite, and water-bite – and that it was traceable to wind and intense cold, tight boots and tight putties, wet feet, and want of exercise.

    Holding out the possibility that Dr Brown – in the transcript of his speech and/or his notes for the period “up to 24th January”, was also using the term Trench Foot, before 30th January.