Section : History & Terminology

Blenorrhea or Gonorrhea ?

  • The Greek word of origin is:
    • βλέννα = blenna = mucus, purulent mucus
    • ρεîν = rein = to flow
  • More precisely, this word is used to describe a purulent discharge which can be localized to the eyes, urethra or any other opening or aperture. If referring to a urethral discharge, it is better to use the term gonorrhea because in Greek:
    • γόνοσς = gonos = semen
    • In French, German, Italian, Portugese, Spanish…it is not really clear if a “h” should be added after the “r”. The Greek way of prononcing r (ρ: rho) is “rh” so blenorrhea and gonorrhea are correct. (In French, German, Italina, Portuguese, Spanish… the h is often dropped)
  • Gonorrhea comes from the Greek word:
    • ρηγνυμι = regnumi = to sprout out
    • But here as well there is a Greek r (ρ, rho), but here too blenorragia would be correct
  • Until the gonococcus was described in 1879 by the German dermatologist Dr Albert Neisser*, SYPHILIS and GONORRHEA were considered as a SINGLE condition.
  • Neisseria Gonorrhea was given in his honor. Albert Neisser is also discovered the coloration technique of the leprosy bacillus (methylene blue stain, NOT Fite’s acid-fast stain)*he was only 24 years old !


Dr Christophe Hsu – dermatologist. Geneva, Switzerland

Source of information:

-Harms M. Dermatologica Helvetica (The Swiss Journal of Dermatology and Venereology: