J. R. Alberda Cortina (1841-1890)
Noun. Mid-19th century.
[Greek karphologia, from karphos straw + legein collect: see -Y.]
MEDICINE. Plucking at the bedclothes by a delirious patient.
Anyone that's ever witnessed carphology first-hand knows what a distressing sight it is, seeing a delirious person clutching and grasping at the bedclothes as if searching for imaginary objects. It is a simple compound of two Greek words, karphos (straw) and legein (collect), carrying the idea of a patient picking at bits of straw on the bed. It's also known as floccillation, from the Latin floccus (woolly hairs or filaments).
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