Medicine / Medication

I think the answer may lie in the success of “medicine” as both a catch-all term for the broad field of medical science and as a dandy metaphor for things having nothing to do with actual doctors. Phrases such as “to take one’s medicine,” “a taste of your own medicine,” etc., made “medicine” a fairly vague and somewhat negative word. But the stern “medication” did not lend itself to catch phrases and carried an aura of science and precision the medical community wished to foster in the public mind. So doctors, et al., gravitated to “medication,” and that’s what you’ll hear on all those wretched pharmaceutical commercials. But those ads are not as obnoxious to my ear as the short form of “medication,” “meds,” which many people use when discussing their illnesses ad nauseam (“The docs have me on some new meds”). Those people could benefit from a prolonged course of leeches.

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