[Tagging] tagging laboratories

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Wed Mar 6 21:34:05 UTC 2019

On Wed, Mar 6, 2019 at 3:15 PM Paul Allen <pla16021 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Unsurprisingly, the English "Laboratory" also derives from the Latin.  The Latin, as you stated,
> means a place where one labours or works.  Somehow, in English, it appears only to ever have
> meant a place where one conducts scientific research and experimentation.  I have no idea why
> this is so, none of the dictionaries (on-line and hardcopy) I looked at explain why, and none
> state that it ever meant any more generalized workplace.

It's pretty common to refer to a place that makes prostheses (dental
or orthopedic), one that analyzes medical specimens (histologic,
haematologic, serologic, etc.) one that makes eyeglasses or contact
lenses, one that develops photographic film, and so on as a
'laboratory'. The word does seem to be reserved for what is thought to
be highly technical processes, and one-of-a-kind artifacts (every
medical specimen, orthodontic appliance, prosthesis, optical
appliance, and photograph is unique to a specific patient or

A goldsmith (or for that matter a blacksmith or tinker), a machinist,,
an auto mechanic, and so on, are much more likely to have the place
where they ply their trades called a 'workshop'. I suspect that both
'laboratory' and 'workshop' would translate to 'laboratorium' in
Latin, and possbly to its cognates in the Romance languages.

More information about the Tagging mailing list