from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Paracelsus Originally Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. 1493-1541. German-Swiss alchemist and physician. He held that illness was the result of external agents attacking the body rather than imbalances within the body and advocated the use of chemicals against disease-causing agents.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • proper n. Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (originally Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, also called Theophrastus Paracelsus and Theophrastus von Hohenheim). Born at Maria-Einsiedeln, in the Canton of Schwyz, Switzerland, Dec. 17 (or 10 Nov.), 1493: died at Salzburg, Sept. 23 (or 24), 1541. A celebrated German-Swiss physician, reformer of therapeutics, iatrochemist, and alchemist. He attended school in a small lead-mining district where his father, William Bombast von Hohenheim, was a physician and teacher of alchemy. The family originally came from Würtemberg, where the noble family of Bombastus was in possession of the ancestral castle of Hohenheim near Stuttgart until 1409. He entered the University of Basel at the age of sixteen, where he adopted the name Paracelsus, after Celsius, a noted Roman physician. But he left without a degree, first going to Wurtzburg to study under Joannes Trithemius, Abbot of Sponheim (1462-1516), a famous astrologer and alchemist, who initiated him into the mysteries of alchemy. He then spent many years in travel and intercourse with distinguished scholars, studied and practiced medicine and surgery, and at one point attended the Diet of Worms. He was appointed to the office of city physician of Basel, which also made him a lecturer on medicine at Basel about 1526, where, through the publisher Johan Frobenius he made friends with the scholar Erasmus; and there he fulminated against the medical pseudo-science of his day, and against the blind adherence to ancient medical authorities such as Hippocrates, Galen, and Avicenna, which was still the prevalent philosophy of medicine in the sixteenth century. But soon, in 1528, he was driven from the city by the medical corporations, whose methods he had severely criticized. He found refuge with friends, and traveled and practiced medicine, but could not find a publisher willing to print his books. He preached frequently the need for experimentation in medicine. He is important in the history of medicine chiefly on account of the impetus which he gave to the development of pharmaceutical chemistry. He was also the author of a visionary and theosophic system of philosophy. The first collective edition of his works appeared at Basel in 1589-91. Among the many legends concerning him is that concerning his long sword, which he obtained while serving as barber-surgeon during the Neapolitan wars. It was rumored that in the hilt of the sword he kept a familiar or small demon; some thought he carried the elixer of life in the sword. He is buried in the cemetary of the Hospital of St. Sebastian in Salzburg. For more detailed information about Paracelsus, there is a special project, the Zurich Paracelsus Project available on the Web.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. Swiss physician who introduced treatments of particular illnesses based on his observation and experience; he saw illness as having an external cause (rather than an imbalance of humors) and replaced traditional remedies with chemical remedies (1493-1541)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Michel, in _Paracelsus_, is a mere silhouette of the sentimental German Frau, a soft sympathiser with her husband and with the young eagle Paracelsus, who longs to leave the home she would not leave for the world -- an excellent and fruitful mother.

    The Poetry Of Robert Browning

  • Who can behold the unfolding of each new spring and all its blossoms without feeling the renewal of "God's ancient rapture," of which Browning speaks in "Paracelsus"?

    An Island Garden

  • Paracelsus is often credited with the idea that the astrological planets were metaphors for internal conditions but he was largely paraphrasing Platohere.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » “Evolutionary Astrology”

  • Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim was a Swiss alchemist who took the name Paracelsus -- 'better than Celsus' (Celsus had been a famous Roman scholar of medicine).

    CreationWiki - Recent changes [en]

  • With this music in our ears we can well forgive some of the prosaic commonplaces which deface "Paracelsus" -- some of those lapses from rhythmic energy to which the poet became less and less sensitive, till he could be so deaf to the vanishing "echo of the fleeting strand" as to sink to the level of doggerel such as that which closes the poem called

    Life of Robert Browning

  • Finally, in about the 16th century, a physician whose name was Theophrastus Bombastus Auricularis von Hohenheim, called Paracelsus, a name probably familiar to some people here -- good old Paracelsus, found that he could predict the degree of convulsion by using a measured amount of camphor to produce the convulsion.

    Sherwin Nuland on electroshock therapy

  • THEOPHRASTUS BOMBASTUS VON HOHENHEIM, commonly known as Paracelsus, was born in 1493 at Maria Einsiedeln, near Zurich, Switzerland.

    Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery

  • A man whose methods appear to have approached to the modern conception of scientific research was Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, commonly known as Paracelsus, the son of a German doctor, born about

    Secret Societies And Subversive Movements

  • This soft-cheeked, effeminate, woman-hating man, whose very sex has been questioned, was Theophrastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus (1493-1541).

    A History of Science: in Five Volumes. Volume II: The Beginnings of Modern Science

  • "Experiment is not sufficient," writes Theophrastus von Hohenheim, called Paracelsus; "experience must verify what can be accepted or not accepted; knowledge is experience."

    Germany and the Germans From an American Point of View


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.