What does this Rx glyph mean in what looks like Latin?

What does this Rx glyph mean in what looks like Latin?

What does this glyph (red) mean? Also, what usage was there for it and the other glyph that looks like a colon (blue)?

You're looking at a scribal abbreviation for "-rum". That is, the word is actually philosophorum, but with the last three letters replaced with ꝶ. Here is a screenshot of the enlarged character from the graphemica page:

The colon is probably a punctus elevatus which is sometimes written without its tail, i.e. like a colon. It's basically like our modern comma.

The History of the Ampersand

These days everybody knows about the ampersand. It’s one of typography’s most unique and interesting characters.

Its rise to hipster fame has catapulted the ampersand from the sketchbooks of type designers onto just about every printable surface you can imagine, the variations of which seem endless. From traditional representations all the way to hyper-stylised forms that bear little resemblance to the original mark.

The varied nature of its form allows type designers a little creative freedom, and is often seen as an opportunity to inject some extra personality into a typeface. Officially classified as punctuation by today’s unicode, it was in fact, once the 27th letter in the English alphabet existing as the graphical representation of the word ‘and’.

Designers in all fields both love and hate the ampersand in equal measure, but very few know much about its history, or intended use, which is actually rather interesting.


The following lists are broken into five categories including route, dosage form, time, measurement, and a catch all category simply named "other." The abbreviations can often be written with or without the 'periods' and in upper or lower case letters (e.g., p.o. and PO both mean 'by mouth'). The format on these lists will be to provide the abbreviation, followed by its intended meaning.


aa - affected area
a.d. - right ear
a.s. - left ear
a.u. - each ear
IM - intramuscular
IV - intravenous
IVP - intravenous push
IVPB - intravenous piggyback
KVO - keep vein open
n.g.t. - naso-gastric tube
n.p.o. - nothing by mouth
nare - nostril
o.d. - right eye
o.s. - left eye
o.u. - each eye
per neb - by nebulizer
p.o. - by mouth
p.r. - rectally
p.v. - vaginally
SC or SQ - subcutaneously
S.L. - sublingually (under the tongue)
top. - topically

Some additional notes on these routes of administration are necessary. The abbreviation 'a.d.' if written without periods, ad, can also mean to or up to. Also, subcutaneously can be abbreviated as 'SC' or 'SQ'. While amongst health care professionals we would use the phrase sublingual as a route of administration, it may be necessary to translate 'SL' as 'under the tongue' for many patients.

Dosage form

amp. - ampule
aq or aqua - water
caps - capsule
cm or crm - cream
elix. - elixir
liq. - liquid
sol. - solution
supp. - suppository
SR, XR, or XL - slow/extended release
syr. - syrup
tab. - tablet
ung. or oint - ointment

The abbreviation 'cm' can be translated as either 'cream' or 'centimeter'. Use context clues from the rest of the prescription to determine which translation is appropriate.

Time or how often

a.c. - before food, before meals
a.m. - morning
atc - around the clock
b.i.d. or bid - twice a day
b.i.w. or biw - twice a week
h or ° - hour
h.s. - at bedtime
p.c. - after food, after meals
p.m. - evening
p.r.n. or prn - as needed
q.i.d. or qid - four times a day
q - each, every
q.d. - every day
q_h or q_° - every__hour(s) (i.e., q8h would be translated as every 8 hours)
qod - every other day
stat - immediately
t.i.d. or tid - three times a day
t.i.w. or tiw - three times a week
wa - while awake


i , ii , . - one, two, etc. (often Roman numerals will be written on prescriptions using lowercase letters with lines over top of them)
ad - to, up to
aq. ad - add water up to
BSA - body surface area
cc - cubic centimeter
dil - dilute
f or fl. - fluid
fl. oz. - fluid ounce
g, G, or gm - gram
gr. - grain
gtt - drop(s)
l or L - liter
mcg or μg - microgram
mEq - milliequivalent
mg - milligram
ml or mL - milliliter
q.s. - a sufficient quantity
q.s. ad - add a sufficient quantity to make
ss - one-half (commonly used with Roman numerals to add a value of 0.5)
Tbs or T - tablespoon
tsp or t - teaspoon
U - unit
> - greater than
< - less than


c - with
disp. - dispense
n/v - nausea and vomiting
neb - nebulizer
NR - no refills
NS or NSS - normal saline, normal saline solution
s - without
Sig or S - write, label
SOB - shortness of breath
T.O. - telephone order
ut dict or u.d. - as directed
V.O. - verbal order

Drug Name Abbreviations

Drug names may often be abbreviated, too. For example, complicated treatment regimens, like cancer treatment protocols or combination HIV regimens, may be written with drug name abbreviations. As reported by the FDA, a prescription with the abbreviation &ldquoMTX&rdquo has been interpreted as both methotrexate (used for rheumatoid arthritis) or mitoxantrone (a cancer drug), and &ldquoATX&rdquo was misunderstood to be the shorthand for zidovudine (AZT, an HIV drug) or azathioprine (an immunosuppressant drug). These types of errors can be linked with severe patient harm.

Common Medical Abbreviations

Your doctor may use different abbreviations or symbols. If you do not understand them, ask your doctor or pharmacist for clarification.  

Medical Abbreviations
How Often to Take Your Medication
ad lib freely, as needed
bid twice a day
prn as needed
q every
q3h every 3 hours
q4h every 4 hours
qd every day
qid four times a day
qod every other day
tid three times a day
When to Take Your Medication
ac before meals
hs at bedtime
int between meals
pc after meals
How Much Medication to Take
cap capsule
gtt drops
i, ii, iii, or iiii number of doses (1, 2, 3, or 4)
mg milligrams
mL milliliters
ss one-half
tab tablet
tbsp tablespoon (15 mL)
tsp teaspoon (5 mL)
How to Use Your Medication
ad right ear
al left ear
c or o with
od right eye
os left eye
ou both eyes
po by mouth
s or ø without
sl sublingual
top apply topically

When writing a prescription, your doctor may use either the generic name of the medication or the brand name. For example, sertraline is the generic name and Zoloft is the brand name used to identify a medication frequently prescribed for the treatment of depression.

In many states, pharmacists are allowed to dispense a generic medication even if your doctor writes a prescription for the brand name version of the drug.   However, if your doctor writes DAW (which means "dispense as written") or initials a box labeled DAW on your prescription, the pharmacist cannot legally substitute a generic medication for the brand name one.

Often the abbreviation "sig" will appear just before the directions on the prescription. "Sig" is short for the Latin, signetur, or "let it be labeled."

Declining Use of Abbreviations

While the Latin terms are still commonly seen on prescriptions, some doctors are gradually retiring the use of these old terms and better clarifying their drug orders in plain language.

Several years ago, since improved readability helps prevent medication mix-ups, it was recommended that prescribers write out instructions rather than use ambiguous abbreviations.  

For example, prescribers would write "daily" rather than qd, the abbreviated Latin term for "every day." In this case, qd could easily be misinterpreted as qid (which means four times a day) or od (which means right eye).

And as mentioned above, there is e-prescribing (electronic prescribing) which adds another level of improvement to the clarity of prescribing medications.  

E-prescribing improves patient safety by eliminating illegible prescriptions, reducing the need for oral communications (which can result in miscommunications), warning and alert systems at the point of prescribing, and allowing the prescriber to view a patient's medication history.

Teotihuacan Influence

Artifacts found in the city and sites across Mexico suggest Teotihuacan was a wealthy trade metropolis in its prime.

In particular, the city exported fine obsidian tools, including spear and dart heads. Teotihuacan had a monopoly on obsidian trade—the most important deposit in Mesoamerica was located near the city.

Ceramics, such as pottery and other luxury goods, were also highly prized export goods because of their elaborate decorations. Other goods coming into and out of the city likely included cotton, cacao and exotic feathers and shells, among other things.

Local harvests included beans, avocados, peppers and squash, and the city farmers raised chickens and turkeys.

The art and architecture styles of Teotihuacan are found widely throughout Mesoamerica, suggesting the city had far-reaching influence.

Additional information

This section provides a little additional information on mapping between bytes, code points and characters for those who are interested. Feel free to just skip to the section Further reading.

Note that code point numbers are commonly expressed in hexadecimal notation - ie. base 16. For example, 233 in hexadecimal form is E9. Unicode code point values are typically written in the form U+00E9.

In the coded character set called ISO�-1 (also known as Latin1) the decimal code point value for the letter é is 233. However, in ISO�-5, the same code point represents the Cyrillic character щ .

These character sets contain fewer than 256 characters and map code points to byte values directly, so a code point with the value 233 is represented by a single byte with a value of 233. Note that it is only the context that determines whether that byte represents either é or щ .

There are other ways of handling characters from a range of scripts. For example, with the Unicode character set, you can represent both characters in the same set. In fact, Unicode contains, in a single set, probably all the characters you are likely to ever need. While the letter é is still represented by the code point value 233, the Cyrillic character щ now has a code point value of 1097.

Bytes these days are usually made up of 8 bits. There are only 2 8 (ie. 256) unique ways of combining 8 bits.

On the other hand, 1097 is too large a number to be represented by a single byte*. So, if you use the character encoding for Unicode text called UTF-8, щ will be represented by two bytes. However, the code point value is not simply derived from the value of the two bytes spliced together – some more complicated decoding is needed.

Other Unicode characters map to one, three or four bytes in the UTF-8 encoding.

Furthermore, note that the letter é is also represented by two bytes in UTF-8, not the single byte used in ISO�-1. (Only ASCII characters are encoded with a single byte in UTF-8.)

UTF-8 is the most widely used way to represent Unicode text in web pages, and you should always use UTF-8 when creating your web pages and databases. But, in principle, UTF-8 is only one of the possible ways of encoding Unicode characters. In other words, a single code point in the Unicode character set can actually be mapped to different byte sequences, depending on which encoding was used for the document. Unicode code points could be mapped to bytes using any one of the encodings called UTF-8, UTF-16 or UTF-32. The Devanagari character क , with code point 2325 (which is 915 in hexadecimal notation), will be represented by two bytes when using the UTF-16 encoding (09 15), three bytes with UTF-8 (E0 A4 95), or four bytes with UTF-32 (00 00 09 15).

There can be further complications beyond those described in this section (such as byte order and escape sequences), but the detail described here shows why it is important that the application you are working with knows which character encoding is appropriate for your data, and knows how to handle that encoding.

Some Symbols in Books of Alchemy

Wd1426, a book of alchemical recipes, has caused us to add some additional symbols to our inventory of character entities: signs for substances antimony and sal armoniac the elements fire and water and the syllabics "subli-" and "precipi-" (found in sublimate, precipitate, etc.). We've also gone ahead and added the elemental symbol for earth, on the assumption that it will eventually appear in our books as well. The new symbols will soon (March 2002) appear in the latest online version of the primary keying instructions as reproduced below. (Examples of the symbols in context follow further on below.)

Addendum, June 2002: Wd1421A employs the same set of symbols.

Addendum, February 2003: Wv149 adds symbols for sulphur, oil, and ?tartar and one of as yet unknown meaning.

Addendum, December 2003: added two symbols found in a strange non-chemical book Ws2541A, viz. salt and saltpetre

Addendum, August 2007: added many symbols found in WN241 (img 195 for convenient table), and had also earlier been mostly found in another book (unidentified. )

Addendum, July 2008: added some symbols from a chart of abbreviations found in a Welsh dictionary (Wing J997), especially those confirmed by their presence in other books.

Addendum, Sept 2011: added some symbols from a chart of abbreviations from WB1088

Alchemical signs
SymbolExampleMeaningRecord as
antimony &antimony
sal armoniac / sal ammoniac (in (al)chemical contexts only) &salarmon
sal armoniac, sal ammoniac (alt. form) &salarmon2
fire (in (al)chemical contexts only) &fire
water &water
earth (the element) &earth
subli- (forming words like "sublimate") &absubli
precipi- (forming words like "precipitate") &abprecipi
sulphur or sulphu- (forming words like 'sulphuris') &sulphur
oil or oleum &oil
oil (alt. glyph?) [treatment pending]
oil (alt. form) &oil2
tartar (tartrate? tartaric acid? potassium? potash?) &tartar
vitriol (sulphuric acid) or vitrio- (forming words like 'vitriolata') &vitriol
vitriol (alt. form) &vitriol2
vitriol (alt. form) blue vitriol? &vitriol3
salt &salt
salt (alt. glyph?) [treatment pending]
nitre or saltpetre (potassium nitrate) &nitre
day &day
night &night
arsenic &arsenic
arsenic (alt. form) &arsenic2
alembic &alembic
ashes &ashes
glass &glass
quicklime (calx viva) &quicklime
lime? chalk? or quicklime? [treatment pending]
salt gemme (rock salt) &saltgemme
urine &urine (assume that dotted and dotless forms are insignificant glyph variants)
cinnabar &cinnabar1
cinnabar (alt. form) &cinnabar2
cinnabar (alt. form) &cinnabar3
alum &alum
alum (alternative form) &alum2
potash or 'ashes of hart's ease' &potash
"purify(-ies)" &purify
aqua fortis &afortis
aqua regis &aregis
talc &talc
wax &wax
blood &blood
vinegar &vinegar
vinegar, distilled (or 'spirit of vinegar') &vinedist
Orpiment or auripigmentum &orpiment
retort (chemical equipment) &retort
Bezoar minerale (antimony oxide?) &bezoarMin
skull, caput mortuum, death's head &skull
verdigris (identical to alt. form of sal ammoniac) &verdigris

magnesia or magnesium
(?? -- a guess based on symbols.com)

Note that the interpretation of some of these symbols is necessarily contextual. That is, it is the fact that they are in a book of alchemy (and maybe even the fact that they are within a particular book) that causes us to interpret "*" as "sal ammoniac" as opposed to "asterisk" or "sextile", or the upright triangle as "fire" instead of "delta" or "trine". If such interpretation is too much too ask, capture as one of the other look-alike symbols, or a generic character that describes the appearance (e.g. &utri (upward-pointing triangle)) will be acceptable. If the capture is consistent, we can always convert later to a semantically more precise or more appropriate rendition.

This book (Wd1426) is singularly helpful in that it provides a key to most of the symbols in the book within the first few pages of the book itself:

The actual form of the symbols is quite consistent throughout the book, and the printing is generally clear. As well as the symbols listed, we find the usual "ounce" symbol the standard doubled "ss" for "semis" ('half'), and other common characters. The planetary signs are used mostly in their alchemical senses, to designate metals.

Noteworthy are the three representations of chemical processes (precipi-, sublimi-, and amalgama-) that act sometimes more like ordinary Latin abbreviation symbols and less like planetary or elemental signs, inasmuch as words are built on them. Two are symbols, one is simply three "a"s with dots over them to indicate abbreviation. The symbols will need to be captured as distinctive entities the abbreviation can follow the usual rules and retain only the actual letters, placed within <ABBR> tags.

Looks like: Means: Capture as:
precipitate &abprecipitate
to sublim to &absublim
sublimate &absublimate
sublimed &sublimed
sublimation &sublimation
amalgama <ABBR>aaa</ABBR>
amalgamate <ABBR>aaate</ABBR>

Some sample transcriptions

CAPTURE AS: Then add more of the fixed Salt to it which hath not &sublimed, making it one third to the &salarmon, which humect with Spirit as before, cir|culate and &sublim, and the &salarmon will be increased. Do thus till all the fixed Salt be &sublimed. Cir|culate the remaining Volatile Spirit with the &salarmon, till all the Spirit be converted into &salarmon,

CAPTURE AS: TAke reddish rich Virgin Earth in &Aries, im|pregnate it with &Sun, &Moon, serene and dew, till the end of <HI>May:</HI> Then imbibe sprink|lingly with dew gathered in <HI>May,</HI> and dry in &Sun, expose all Night to the &Moon and Air, securing it from Rain. Still when it is dry, imbibe and turn the Earth often. Continue this till &sublimation. The hot &Sun (especially in the Dog-days) will make a pure Salt shoot up, which mingle back into the Earth, by turning it all over. Then distill by gra|duated &fire as <HI>A.F.</HI> forcing all the Spirits

CAPTURE AS: the words of <HI>Helmont:</HI> when (&saith he) I di&stingui&shed be|tween the &Mercies, and Salts and &sulphurs of <HI>Concretes,</HI> by an analytical re&solution of them, I wondred at the &sluggi&sh, in|active nature of the &Mercial com|pared to the dignity and ex|cellent activity of the other two principles (to wit Sul|phurous and and Saline) More|

Prescription Writing Examples

This example is a common medication prescribed when people are leaving the hospital. It is one 100 mg tablet, taken at bedtime. The prescription is for 30 pills and no refills.

Zofran is a very popular anti-nausea medication used after surgery. You’ll notice this script is missing the “amount.” IV medications are a little different in that the amount and strength are kind of mixed together. This is not always the case, though. You also see that this is an “as needed” or “PRN” medication. When the patient complains of nausea, the nurse can give this medication because it has been prescribed.

This example shows a common way to write prescriptions for liquids, especially for children. Here I’ve used the word “liquid” as a placeholder for the name of a liquid medication. Liquids come in specific strengths per amount of liquid. Here, the strength is 10 mg per 5 mL. We only want to give 5 mg, though, so the “amount” that we prescribe is only 2.5 mL per dose. It’s given by mouth every 4 hours. We are dispensing 𔄙 (one) bottle”. You could also just write 𔄙 (one)” as the pharmacist would know what you mean.

To finish up, here is a list of the JCAHO “Do Not Use” List:

Watch the video: What is GLYPH? What does GLYPH mean? GLYPH meaning, definition u0026 explanation