patent liver-pill circular

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sami33, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. sami33

    sami33 Senior Member

    Morocco
    arabic
    Hi everybody!

    Would you please help me to understand the underlined expression.

    I knew it was my liver that was out of order, because I had just been reading a patent liver-pill circular, in which were detailed the various symptoms by which a man could tell when his liver was out of order. I had them all.

    Source: Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome Chapter 01.

    Thank you so very much.
     
  2. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    A circular is some kind of pamphlet.
    Patent describes the 'liver-pill' (I'd say) and means 'protected by a patent'.
    I think you know what liver pills are.

    It may (arguably) have been clearer if it had been 'a patent-liver-pill circular' that he'd been reading.

    ADDED:
    circular: (n) "a printed or duplicated advertisement or notice for mass distribution"
    patent: (adj) "3. concerning protection, appointment, etc, of or by a patent or patents" "4. proprietary"
     
  3. mplsray Senior Member

    Just as a point of information: As it says in this Wikipedia entry, most "patent medicines" were not actually protected by patents.
     
  4. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    Thanks for 'clarifying' that, ray.:) I think that's exactly the kind of 'patent' that's referred to in the text.
     
  5. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    Nor, in many cases, were they actually medicines....
     

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