Wednesday 15 December 2010


Are there many more beautiful words in the English language than phlebotomist? I mean, there are a couple, but words like wamblecropt don't wander around hospitals. There are people who, when asked what they do for a pittance, actually get to say: 'I'm a phlebotomist.'

Say it aloud.

Go on.

A phlebotomist, in case you were wondering, is the chap who does blood tests. Or more particularly the chap who takes the blood out of your arm and sends it off to be inspected by vampiric doctors. The word is just Greek for blood-taker. A less kindly world would have called them bloodsuckers or leeches or mosquitoes. It's not as though we enjoy their pins and needles. But the beauty of phlebotomy could not be held down.

What bloodshed, however dire, would not be pardoned if it were only called phlebotomy? Would Dracula have been a villain? Would fleas be scorned? I could continue in this vein (as the garrulous corpuscle once remarked), but I shall not. All wordplay is in vein beside phlebotomy. The word is just bloody beautiful.

Incidentally, a phlebotomist should never be confused with a phlebotomus which is a kind of very hairy sandfly.

The Inky Fool got carried away


  1. According to my mother-in-law the doctor, phlebotomists are usually just referred to as phlebots. Pronounced in such a way that it makes you think of robo-fleas.

  2. Sorry - it jsut doesn't 'do it' for me - although it's the kind of word Rowan Atkinson would say especially well.

  3. If you say it fast it sounds like lobotomist. Even scarier!

  4. Hah, every time I hear the word "phlebotomist" I actually do think of "lobotomy". Somewhat similar words, very different meanings!

    Mai | Phlebotomy Examiner