2009-08-26

Most of us will rec­og­nize the name ac­eta­minophen, com­monly seen on the la­bels of generic brand al­ter­na­tives to Tylenol. But I only re­cently learned of the two words’ com­mon ori­gin. It turns out that both names, Tylenol and ac­eta­minophen, come from dif­fer­ent parts of the drug’s less used chem­i­cal name, para-acetylaminophenol:

para-acetylaminophenol

I think it’s amus­ing that the parts used by each name are nearly in­verse com­po­nents of the orig­i­nal word. I don’t know when each word came into use, but it makes me won­der whether one was de­lib­er­ately cho­sen to be as dif­fer­ent as pos­si­ble from the other.