A wear­ing death

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - WRITE IN -

In the Sum­mer is­sue, reader Brian Lake asked about “a wear­ing” listed as a cause of death.

The Ox­ford English Dic­tionary de­fines “wear­ing” as: “Ex­haust­ing, tir­ing; en­fee­bling by con­tin­ued strain or ir­ri­ta­tion”. A Fam­ily His­to­rian’s Guide to Ill­ness, Dis­ease & Death Cer­tifi­cates, by El­iz­a­beth Briggs, de­fines ex­haus­tion as “weak­ness and in­abil­ity to re­spond to stim­uli, fight in­fec­tion and dis­ease”.

Could “a wear­ing” be a gen­eral term for any dis­ease or con­di­tion that grad­u­ally wore a per­son out? For ex­am­ple, I have two death cer­tifi­cates, one of which gives cause of death as “ex­haus­tion due to sup­pu­ra­tion of the spine”, which a doc­tor friend tells me was tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, and the other as “ex­haus­tion due to old age”. Carolyn Pais­ley, by email Ed­i­tor replies: Has any other reader come across “a wear­ing” as a cause of death?

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