Monday, August 25, 2014

Death causes dictionary

As I was writing a blog post about epidemies, I was already thinking about creating basic dictionary of death causes - Czech-German-English dictionary, because many of parishes in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia had parish books in German. And here it is. These are just those most common death causes as taken from parish books of Horní Záhoří (South Bohemia), Slabce (Central Bohemia), Nový Přerov (Moravia) and Kateřinky (Silesia).

This dictionary covers most common death causes during the end of 18th and first half of 19th century. As the medical knowledge improved there are more and more causes in the registries and it's almost impossible to cover all of them. The death causes here are those you will most probably see in the death registries. For example - death registry of Nový Přerov shows only 26 different death causes between 1784 and 1810.

Death from the public water system - infected water was one of the largest problems of our past.

I'll add new causes time to time and if you need any death cause translated, just let me know in comments. Great help with determining translation from German to English provides Rudi's list of archaic medical terms.

You can also use this dictionary of German causes of death that translate it to current Czech and then translate the Czech term using online translator.

Czech German English
boule Angina tonsillitis
božec Fraiß infantile convulsions
břišní tyfus Faulfieber typhus / typhoid fever
černý kašel Keuchhusten, Stickhusten whooping cough
horečka Fieber fever
horečka / úpal hitzige Fieber high fever / heatstroke
horká nemoc Fieber fever
chrlení krve Blutsturz haemorrhage
kašel Husten cough
katar Karthar catarrh
mozková mrtvice Gehirnentzündung brain apoplexy
mrtvice Schlagfluß apoplexy
mrtvice Schlag apoplexy
náhle plötzlich suddenly
nehoda Unglück(sfall) accident
nemoc Krankheit illness
neštovice Blattern, Pocken variolla, pox
neznámý unbewust, unbekant unknown
obvyklá gewöhnlich common
otok Geschwulst tumor
píchání v boku Seitenstechen stitches in the side
porod Geburt birth
prsní vodnatenost Brustwassersucht hydrothorax
průjem Durchfall diarrhea
při porodu Kindsnöthen during the birth
přirozenou smrtí natürlich natural death
psotník Fraiß infantile convulsions
rakovina Krebs cancer
sešlost věkem Altersschwäche senility
slabost Schwäche weakness
sněť Brand gangrene
souchotiny Lungensucht tuberculosis
spála Scharlach scarlet fever
spalničky Masern measles
starost Altershalber senility
stářím Altershalber because of age
škrofle, krtice Skrofel Scrofula
šlak Schlag apoplexy
tyfus Nervenfieber typhoid fever / typhus
tyfus Petetschen typhus / typhoid fever
úbytě Abzehrung consumption, often tuberculosis
úplavice (Brech)ruhr dysentery
věkem sešlý Altersschwäche, Marasmus (senilis) because of age
vodnatelnost Wassersucht dropsy
záduch(a) Asthma asthma
zánět Apostem inflammation
zápal plic Lungenentzündung pneumonia
zarděnky Frieseln rubeola
záškrt, prým Steckkarthar, Bräune diphteria


  1. Great list. However, I think I need a translation of the English, too! Hydro-thorax? Catarrh? Variolla? I guess that's what dictionaries are for. :)

    1. Try Rudi's list - there is a link to it in the blog post. :) There are thousands (ehm, probably millions) of medical terms I have no idea what they mean. And please, let me know if you find any translation which is more known among people (such as, I don't know, pox for variolla). Thanks!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I asked google for a common term for pox of Variolla and it said SMALLPOX is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus. Hope that helps.


  2. exelent!!!! great list,thanks Blanka

  3. This is a great list. And now I know what some of those English terms actually mean. :) (Apoplexy is a word I've always heard--but now that I see the German next to it, I realize it's a stroke.)

    I see psotnik come up quite a lot. I wonder what would cause that to be so frequent among children back then? Some people have epileptic convulsions these days, but it's definitely the exception--not something you usually expect to be fatal.

    1. Ah, stroke! Thanks!

      Psotník... I'll write a special blog post about this "disease".

  4. Blanka,

    I want to let you know that your wonderful blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Po těžkém porodu = After a difficult birth

    as found in Trojany, (Žebnice farní) Plzeň-sever okres, Plzeňský kraj, Bohemia

  6. Found another German spelling: souchotiny (Czech) Schwindsucht (German) acute tuberculosis (English)

  7. Thank you Blanka!! You just answered one of my questions about my Great, Great Uncle Hugo Schmitt!! He died at age 16 months from diphtheria! :-) Your blog is invaluable to those of us wanting to learn all we can about our ancestors other than just names & dates!! Sandy

    1. Thanks for your appreciation, I'm happy to help! :)

  8. Just thought I'd let you know that I used this to figure out "apostem." Děkuju mnohokrát!

  9. Please add a Latin column to your cause of death dictionary.

  10. How about: zluta zyminis -- yellow fever? 1810 reference.

  11. I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you. English vocabulary advanced

  12. Your cause of death dictionary is wonderful thank you! Would love to know what Psotnik means SO many little ones die from "it" ?? Did you do the special blog on it ?? !

    1. Yes, there is a special blog about it:

  13. I came across a cause of death that I don't see on your list. It looks like "chřadnutí". The death is for a Terezie Bušta and source: