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I couldn't find "gleet" in any of my regular dictionaries either at home or at work. However, for some reason (perhaps employee morale), at work we have a copy of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare's International Classification of Diseases (ICD), Eighth Revision. On a whim, I looked up "Gleet" and found it sandwiched between "Glaucoma" and "Glenard's Disease." It was identified with the diagnosis code number 098.1 (you may want to note this for future reference -- e.g., "Doctor, it hurts when I do this...I think I picked up a case of diagnosis code 098.1 on vacation..." Hey, make your doctor work for his money).
Actually, the ICD is quite a fascinating index, if such a thing is possible. I could barely contain my delight in discovering that there were diagnosis codes for 28 different kinds of itches: bakers' itch, barbers' itch, bricklayer's itch, cheese itch, clam digger itch, coolie itch, copra itch, Cuban itch, dew itch, dhobie itch, filarial itch, grain itch, grocers' itch, ground itch, harvest itch, jock itch, Malabar itch, scabies itch, Norwegian itch, poultrymen's itch, sarcoptic itch, scrub itch, seven-year itch (does this afflict only married men?), straw itch, swimmers' itch, washerwomen's itch, water itch and winter itch. It was truly a wonderful world of disease classification...and yet no description of "gleet" to be had.
I found myself lying awake at night fretting about gleet, a disease that worried me almost as much as cheese itch. 'What if I have gleet and I don't know it?' I thought. 'Maybe people are just too nice to tell me...' I could imagine their conversations behind my back, "Man, that guy has a wicked gleet problem, someone should tell him."
So, resourceful fellow that I am, I then did a web search on "gleet" and turned up this rather descriptive definition:
gleet \'glt\ n (14 c. ME glet slimy or mucous matter, fr. MF glete, fr. L glittus viscous; akin to LL glut-, glus glue -- more at CLAY]: a chronic inflammation of a bodily orifice usu. accompanied by an abnormal discharge; also: the discharge itself (as from the urethra in gonorrhea)-- gleety \-\ adj
You know, the only thing scarier than me dedicating a page to the word "gleet" is that somebody actually put the definition on the web. But now we can all use it in regular conversation. For example, "Oh honey, it's just a little gleet, nothing to worry about." or "Hey kid, wipe that disgusting gleet from your nose!" -- BH
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