Why does RX Stand for Prescription?

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Why Does Rx Stand for Prescription?


Why does Rx stand for prescription?
Credit: arkitekt  |  © http://www.sxc.hu/profile/arkitekt

I am a person that wonders a lot of things. Many times, these things are silly. The other day, I asked my sister why hamburgers don’t contain any ham if cheeseburgers contain cheese. She didn’t have an answer, knowing very well that I know the food is named after the town of Hamburg inGermany. However, one thing I started to wonder is why does Rx stand for prescription since prescription starts with P. I decided I’d do some research to find out the information so I could answer my own question and give this information to other people.

So, why does Rx mean prescription?

First, the exact abbreviation is not an R and an X, but the symbol is not in most font sets on a computer and cannot be easily typed. It is an R with its tail extended and crossed like an X.

There are many theories to why Rx is used. One of these many theories is that it means the doctor gives and the patient takes.

However, what seems to be much more likely and probably true is that the R stood for the Latin word “recipere,” which means “recipe.” The R was used to indicate the ingredients the doctor wanted a patient to take, thus a “recipe” for the medicine.

The tail being crossed like an X comes from an ancient symbol for the roman god, Jupiter. The X meant a prayer or request to Jupiter.

When a doctor put the Rx symbol in front or behind of the ingredients a patient was supposed to take, it was basically saying, “Take this and pray for a cure.”

The symbol has stayed, meaning prescription and sometimes pharmacy. While the symbol does not have the same meaning today, it can have the same meaning for some, though it it doubtful that anybody is praying to the Roman god Jupiter for a cure.

Now, the next time you see the Rx symbol, you do not have to wonder why Rx stands for prescription or pharmacy. I know now I will be happy and I will also have some new facts I can tell my friends if they wonder or ask.

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