Mental Floss

What Does That "Rx" Have to Do With Prescription Drugs?

Matt Soniak
iStock / busracavus
iStock / busracavus / iStock / busracavus

Rec, sometimes transliterated as "Rx," is an abbreviation of the Latin recipe, the command form of recipere, "to take.” Back in the days when most everyone in Europe used Latin, a doctor’s orders usually began with ? as an instruction to take specific ingredients and combine them to make a medicine for a patient. Pharmacists later put the symbol on medicine containers as part of their instructions to patients on when and how often to take the medicine. Somewhere in time, pharmacists began using the symbol on their signage for their shops and it remains in use as a symbol of pharmaceuticals long after Latin fell out of favor.