WATCH NOW: What Is The Gruesome Origin Of The Word "Triage"?

WATCH NOW: What Is The Gruesome Origin Of The Word "Triage"?

There are lots of words with truly gruesome histories that have evolved over time to have much gentler meanings. Triage, is a great example of one of these words.



the process of sorting victims, as of a battle or disaster, to determine medical priority in order to increase the number of survivors.
the determination of priorities for action: She began her workday with a triage of emails.


of, relating to, or performing the task of triage: a triage officer.

verb (used with object), tri·aged, tri·ag·ing.

to act on or in by triage: to triage a crisis.

Origin of triage

1925–30; < French: sorting, equivalent to tri(er) to sort (see try) + -age -age Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for triage

Contemporary Examples of triage

Historical Examples of triage

British Dictionary definitions for triage



(in a hospital) the principle or practice of sorting emergency patients into categories of priority for treatment
the principle or practice of sorting casualties in battle or disaster into categories of priority for treatment
the principle or practice of allocating limited resources, as of food or foreign aid, on a basis of expediency rather than according to moral principles or the needs of the recipients

Word Origin for triage

C18 (in the sense: sorting (goods) according to quality): from French; see try, -age
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for triage

1727, "action of assorting according to quality," from French triage "a picking out, sorting," from Old French trier "to pick, cull" (see try). There seems to be some influence from or convergence with Latin tria "three" (e.g. triage for "coffee beans of the third or lowest quality"). In World War I, adopted for the sorting of wounded soldiers into three groups according to the severity of their injuries.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for triage


[trē-äzh, trēäzh′]


A process for sorting injured people into groups based on their need for or likely benefit from immediate medical treatment. Triage is used on the battlefield, at disaster sites, and in hospital emergency rooms when limited medical resources must be allocated.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.