The Medicinal Dictionary was published in three volumes between 1743 and 1745, and was written by the physician Robert James. He was an old schoolmate of Samuel Johnson (albeit six years older), and the two men became friends later in London. The dictionary is mostly of interest nowadays for the parts of it that Samuel Johnson wrote for his friend. James later helped Johnson with medical definitions in his own dictionary (which came out in 1755).
There are a number of citations in the OED from James’ Medicinal Dictionary. About half of them begin with A. There is no mention that Johnson wrote these, but apparently Johnson did help out more with the entries at the beginning of the alphabet. Here they are:
abaptiston: type of trepan
abort (noun): aborted foetus
acaleph: jellyfish-like creature
acne: skin complaint
acnestis: this is one of those words that often come up in lists of amusing words, or lists of words that you didn’t know there was a word for. Ammon Shea drew attention to it when he read the OED from start to finish (see this previous post). The first citation is attributed to James, and it encapsulates exactly what the acnestis is: “Acnestis, that Part of the Spine of the Back, which reaches from .. the Part betwixt the Shoulder-blades, to the Loins. This Part seems to have been originally called so in Quadrupeds only, because they cannot reach it to scratch.”
acrasia: intemperance, excess
acroasis: oral discourse, lecture
action: influence, effect, agency. The citation is from James’ Cathartica dictionary entry: “This may possibly have been a particular Preparation of Hellebore corrected, in order to render its Action less violent”.
adarces: salty substance found on plants and used for therapeutic purposes
adynamia: physical weakness
anhidrosis: inability to sweat
ankyloglossia: medical condition of tongue-tie
aromatic: fragrant (the citation is “Aromatic reed”, which is also at the ‘reed’ entry)
conceptus: newly conceived embryo, foetus or fertilised egg
crystalline: relating to crystals
green: green vegetable (the citation is from the ‘spinach’ entry in James’ dictionary)
metathesis: the movement of diseased matter to a part of the body where it will be less injurious. (This definition is now obsolete. Metathesis these days is more common as a term in linguistics, and means the transposition of sounds or letters in a word. I occasionally mention it in blog posts, eg here).
morum: tumour or swelling of the eyelid
reed: type of grass (see ‘aromatic’ above)
retorrid: (of humours) dried out or burnt up by excessive heat.
Roman nigella: plant
septenary: the citation refers to a septenary fever ie one that lasts seven days
statice: plant genus
staxis: slight defluxion of any humour, eg nasal haemorrhage
strigment: the dirt and perspiration scraped from the skin with a strigil
strigmentitious: the adjective of above
strike (verb): to pierce, stab
styptic: (of a medicament) that arrests haemorrhage
uvea: membrane of the iris
Robert James is credited in the OED with the literal usage of the phrase ‘hair of the dog’ in his A Treatise on Canine Madness (1760). The application of a hair of the mad dog to the wound was meant to be the cure for the bite, according to James. The phrase has long been used (even before James used it in its literal sense) to mean ‘an alcoholic drink taken to cure a hangover’.