Where Did the Word Diabetes Come From?

The word “diabetes,” like many medical terms, is derived from Latin and Greek.

Ancient Greek

The ancient Greek word “diabetes” meant “a siphon” or “a passer through.” The word came from “diabainein,” which meant “to pass through,” which in turn came from the prefix “dia-,” which meant “through,” and “bainein,” which meant “to go.”

Aretus the Cappadocian

Aretus the Cappadocian, a doctor in second-century Greece, was the first to apply the word “diabetes” to the disease. We believe he chose the word because he observed patients with the disease passing water like a siphon.


The Latin word “diabetes” was derived from the Greek word.


The English word “diabetes” was derived from the Latin. The earliest known English usage was in 1562.


The English word “diabetic” is more recent than the word “diabetes.” “Diabetic” was first used in 1840.

The word "diabetes