My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, “Going Medieval: The Revival of ‘Apothecary’,” is now live—and this month, you don’t have to be a subscriber to read it. (But of course you should subscribe anyway, right?)
In the column, I expand on a Word of the Week entry from earlier this year, tracking the word’s long and interesting history (Chaucer! Shakespeare! Eighteenth-century slang!), reporting on “apothecary” sightings far and wide (from medical marijuana dispensaries to a gastropub), and speculating on the reasons for the word’s new popularity (steampunk, perchance?).
Apothecary is fun to say, but, as I note in the column, it’s no laughing matter legally:
Here in California (and maybe elsewhere), the use of “apothecary” is legally restricted to licensed pharmacies. The state board of pharmacy has, on at least a couple of occasions, wielded that law—enacted in 1905—against non-druggist apothecaries. In 2008, the board warned Apothecary, the San Francisco children’s-clothing store, to either change its name or close its doors. “Imagine ending up in legal hot water for not selling drugs,” a local newspaper wryly commented. The store owner chose to go out of business rather than rebrand.