A rod with two snakes entwined about it topped by a pair of wings. The caduceus served as the symbol of Hermes and Mercury, the Greek and Roman messenger gods. The caduceus was the sign of a herald and hence a logical symbol for the messenger. Because of a misconception, the caduceus became the insignia of the U.S. Army Medical Corps. The Medical Corps should have chosen the symbol of medicine, which is the rod of Aesculapius, which has only one snake and no wings atop it. No wings were necessary since the essence of medicine is not speed. The single serpent that could shed its skin and emerge in full vigor represents the renewal of youth and health — medicine. The Latin word "caduceus" came from the Greek "karykeion," from "karyx" or "keryx" meaning "herald." The ancient caduceus with its pair of snakes coiled about each other resembles somewhat a model of the structure of DNA (the double helix) which was only discovered in modern times (in 1953, if that is still in "modern times").
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A staff with two oppositely twined serpents and surmounted by two wings; emblem of the U.S. Army Medical Corps. For veterinary medicine the double serpent was changed in 1972 to its present form with a single serpent. SEE ALSO: staff of Aesculapius. [L. the staff of Mercury; G. keryx herald, the staff of Hermes]

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ca·du·ceus kə-'d(y)ü-sē-əs, -shəs n, pl -cei -sē-.ī a medical insignia bearing a representation of a staff with two entwined snakes and two wings at the top:
a) one of the symbols of a physician compare STAFF OF AESCULAPIUS
b) the emblem of a medical corps or a department of the armed services (as of the U.S. Army)
Each boldface word in the list below is a chiefly British variant of the word to its right in small capitals.
caecal - CECAL
caecally - CECALLY
caecectomy - CECECTOMY
caecitis - CECITIS
caecopexy - CECOPEXY
caecostomy - CECOSTOMY
caecotomy - CECOTOMY
caecum - CECUM
caenogenetic - CENOGENETIC

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ca·du·ce·us (kə-dooґshəs) [L., from Gr. karykeion, herald's staff] the winged staff of Hermes or Mercury, the messenger of the gods, with two snakes winding around it. Used as a medical symbol and as the emblem of the Medical Corps, U.S. Army. The official symbol of the medical profession is the staff of Aesculapius.

Caduceus. (A), United States Army Medical Corps; (B), American Veterinary Medicine Association.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Caducĕus — (lat., griech. Kerykeion), der Hermesstab, d. h. der vorn mit zwei verschlungenen und mit den Köpfen einander zugekehrten Schlangen versehene Stab, das gewöhnlichste Attribut des Hermes oder Merkur (Caducifer). Neben dieser durch die ausgebildete …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Caduceus — Ca*du ce*us, n. [L. caduceum, caduceus; akin to Gr. ? a herald s wand, fr. ? herald.] (Myth.) The official staff or wand of Hermes or Mercury, the messenger of the gods. It was originally said to be a herald s staff of olive wood, but was… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • CADUCEUS — Mercurii virga fuisse dicitur, quâ ille ad dissidia, et discordias tollendas utebatur. (unde Caducifer dictus est) a cadendo sic vocata, quod contentiones et bella cadere faceret, nam quemadmodum per Faeciales bella indicebantur, ita per… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • caduceus — 1590s, from L. caduceus, alteration of Doric Gk. karykeion herald s staff, from karyx (gen. karykos) a herald, from PIE *karu , from root *kar to praise loudly (Cf. Skt. carkarti mentions with praise, O.E. hreð fame, glory ). Especially the wand… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Caducĕus — (gr. Kerykeion), Stab von zwei Schlangen umwunden, welche oben die Köpfe einander zukehren, ohne den Kamm zu sträuben. Seine Entstehung soll er daher haben, daß Mercur einst in Arkadien zwischen 2 kämpfende Schlangen einen Stab warf, um welchen… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Caduceus — Caducĕus (lat.; grch. Kerykeion), geflügelter, von zwei verschlungenen und mit den Köpfen einander zugekehrten Schlangen umwundener Stab, Merkurstab [Abb. 306]; Abzeichen des Hermes, Stab der Herolde, Sinnbild des Handels …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Caduceus — Caduceus, der Stab des Mercur von 2 Schlangen umwunden, Symbol des Friedens, deßwegen von den Herolden getragen; von ihm hat Mercur den Beinamen Caducifer …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • caduceus — [kə do͞o′sē əs, kədyo͞o′sē əs] n. pl. caducei [kə do͞o′sē ī΄, kə dyo͞o′sē ī΄] [L, ? via Etr < Gr(Doric) karykeion, for Gr kērykeion < kēryx, herald < IE base * kar , to praise > OHG hruom, Ger ruhm] 1. the staff of an ancient herald;… …   English World dictionary

  • Caduceus — The caduceus (IPA|/kəˈdjuːsiəs/, ʃəs, ˈduː ; κηρύκειον in Greek) or wand of Hermes is typically depicted as a short herald s staff entwined by two serpents in the form of a double helix, and sometimes surmounted by wings. In later Antiquity the… …   Wikipedia

  • Caduceus — Hermesstab mit zwei Schlangen Der Hermesstab (altgriechisch: τὸ κηρύκειον kerýkeion, von ὁ κῆρυξ , Gen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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