Atopy: Condition, Disease, or Syndrome?


The term “atopy”is relatively new, although it is derived from the ancient Greek. The American allergists Coca and Cooke [7] wanted to describe a strange, abnormal type of hypersensitivity against environmental substances which was observed only in humans and tended to occur within families without obvious prior sensitization. They wanted to differentiate this type of hypersensitivity from other forms such as anaphylaxis [30] and asked the philologist Perry, from Columbia University, for help. This is in contrast to many other famous physicians who felt confident enough to create their own words from ancient languages, sometimes linguistically not very correct but yet successful. For example, the term “anaphylaxis”, referring to a lack of protection, should have been, in correct Greek, “aphylaxis”. However, for reasons of rhythm or out of lack of knowledge of Greek. Richet, who later won the Nobel Prize, preferred “anaphylaxis” [30]. Perry came up with the term “atopy”, meaning not in the right place or strange [7].


Atopic Eczema Allergic Rhinitis Allergic Bronchial Asthma Atopic Disease Allergic Rhinoconjunctivitis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1991

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  • J. Ring

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