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The Ancient World, C. 500 B.c.e. –200 C.e.

Hygiene is defined in current English dictionaries as "the science of health." This definition, though formally correct, hides a long history of change in the word's use, from its holistic classical meaning of "individual regimens to preserve health" to its nineteenth-century connotations of "social medicine" (including lethal eugenics programs), to its current limited construal as "personal cleanliness" or "germ removal." For more than 2,500 years of use in many different lands, concepts of hygiene have been integral to personal identity, shaping sense of self through boundary maintenance and spirituality.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Hydrazones to Incompatibility