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If “Hypo-” Means “Under,” What is the “Chondria” in “Hypochondria”?

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Hypochondria derives from the Greek preposition hypo, meaning “under,” as in the hypodermic that goes under the skin, and hypothermia, the condition of being insufficient heat. The -chondria in hypochondria comes from Greek chondros, meaning “gristle” or “cartilage.” It was once believed that the organs under the cartilage of the breastbone — specifically the spleen, liver, and gallbladder — were the seat of melancholy and generated feelings of malaise. The Greek preposition hyper means “over,” as in hypersensitive and hyperactive. This is part of a complete episode.

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