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Old Disease Names Frequently Found on Death Certificates: What Would They be Called Today?

12 May 2021 2:44 PM | Anonymous

What killed grandma?

If you find a death certificate for great-great-grandma and it lists the cause of death as "Hectical Complaint," you probably will ask, "What's that?"

Yes, I had to look that up. Luckily, there is a one-page "dictionary" on USGenNet that can be a very useful tool for any genealogist who is reading old documents. It shows old medical terminology and then shows the modern-day name for each.

You can find Old Disease Names Frequently found on Death Certificates at

My thanks to Pierre Clouthier of Progeny Genealogy Inc. for pointing to that page.


  • 13 May 2021 9:39 AM | Anonymous member
    My favorite is "a complication of diseases", often found in old death records and obituaries. I have no idea what it means, and I've never seen it on lists of old disease names, but I suspect it was a catch-all term used when someone had been ill but no particular or immediate cause of death was evident.
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  • 13 May 2021 11:51 AM | Anonymous
    Also, if one can see the code or numbers that they wrote on the cause of death and cannot decipher what was written, the site below can be of use. Go with the last revision that's before the date of death.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 13 May 2021 4:45 PM | Anonymous
    antiqussmorbus used to be a great site for this. Then it died too...
    Link  •  Reply

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