Two US senators have proposed to excise the word "lunatic" from federal law, calling it outdated and offensive. What are the word's origins and why is it so offensive?
The word "lunatic" has been codified into US law so long it has outlasted its currency in the psychiatric profession.
Many experts say they are surprised a term that in antiquity referred to madness influenced by the lunar cycle survives in such a prominent place in the US Code - its very first section.
The US Code is the official codification of US federal laws. In it, the word "lunatic" appears in a section of basic definitions, and later in a tract dealing with bank mergers.
Last month, Senators Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, and Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, proposed the 21st Century Language Act, a 257-word bill that would strip the word out.
"The continued use of this pejorative term has no place in the US Code," Mr Conrad said on the Senate floor.
"'Lunatic' is an unnecessary term and... its removal will have no impact on the broader federal law."
'Drunkards' and 'idiots'...
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