"Chiropractic": why no 's'?

I’m reading a book written by a chiropractor, and every time I hit the name of his field of study, chiropractic, the word grates on my spine like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Why ‘chiropractic’ instead of ‘chiropractics’? All the other fields of study that end in ‘ic’, like ‘physics’, ‘fluidics’, or ‘statics’, tack an ‘s’ on the end. ‘Chiropractic’ sounds like an adjective.

Because it’s a coinage, and the coiner (D.D. Palmer) didn’t bother to coin a proper noun form. Followers simply retained the word as is.

If there were a noun form, it would probably be “chiropractition”, but since the “practic” part comes directly from the Greek “praktikos” rather than the English “practice”, that would be a back formation based on an incorrect assumption.

I wonder whether we could ease the linguistically-logical form into use?

I’d rather ease some actual medical science into chiropractic before worrying about easing a linguistic change in.

And while you’re at it, how about using “maths” for mathematics, as we do this side of the pond? The reasoning is identical, after all.

Ah, but ‘math’ (or ‘maths’) is a short form. The full name of the field is ‘mathematics’. The situation I describe would only obtain if we called it ‘mathematic’.

My question is solely linguistic. Let’s leave questions of whether it works out, okay?

Well, there isn’t a linguistically logical (by which I presume you mean consistent) form, because it’s a unique word. Chiropractition (or chiropractice) are linguistically elegant, but not logical.

It’s not completely unique. Why is it “dietetics” and “orthopedics”, but not “chiropractics” ?

Actually, my Firefox spellchecker seems happy with “chiropractics”. Not with “chiropractix”, though.

And another thing: why ‘dietitian’ rather than ‘dietician’? We don’t say ‘mathematitian’ after all…

It looks like “dietician” is an accepted spelling. Doesn’t explain why “mathematitian” isn’t, though.

Again, those are organic words, while chiropractic is not.

What’s an organic word? Every word was coined at some point.

I use organic in this sense to mean evolved from other words which are commonly used together, such as “alone”, which was originally a contraction of “all one”, or adopted from other languages, for example.

For example, orthopaedics comes from the French coinage orthopedique, which was coined in much the same way as chiropractic. However, because it was adopted from another language, there was an existing “declension” to fit it into (insofar as English can be said to have declensions).

If the estimable Doctor (I use the term loosely) Palmer had chosen to, he could simply have used “chiropractic” as an adjective only, and “chiropractics” or “chiropractic medicine” or “chiropractition” or whatever as the noun, but he didn’t.

In a couple of hundred years people will probably have started to do so, assuming their lawyers are still sending them to see quacks.

I always wanted to say something that sounded like ‘Chiropraxy.’

I always felt it should be “chiropraxis.”