pugillus, pugil

In pharmaceutical recipes, as much as can be taken between the thumb and two (some say three) fingers.



Manipulus, is a great handful  M
Pugillus, is a small handful.   p

Sarah Wigges her Book 1616.
Manuscript in possession of the Royal College of Physicians (London), MS654.


Note, That by Parts is to be understood a Pugil; which is no more than one does usually take up between the Thumb and the two next Fingers. By Fascicule a reasonable full Grip, or Handful.

J[ohn] E[velyn].
Acetaria. A Discourse of Sallets.
London: Printed for B. Tooke, 1699.


In the apothecary's shop, which blazed like a ball room, one of the fattest court-lackeys was begging of one of the leanest dispensers a maniple more and a little pugillus* of moxa for his Highness. But the lean man took behind his scales a half-open handful of moxa, and four finger-tipfuls more (for in fact a little pugillus amounts to only three finger-tips), and sent it all to the feet of the Prince.…

The reason why the dispenser gave more than the recipe said was…

* A fistful. — Tr[anslator].

Jean Paul Friedrich Richter.
Charles T. Brooks, translator.
Hesperus, or Forty-Five Dog-Post-Days. Vol. 1.
Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1865.
Page 305.


pug. pugillus. A pugil; a pinch; a grip between thumb and first two fingers; the eighth part of a handful; from thirty to sixty grains; originally what one can hold in the fist; a handful.

An Epitome of Therapeutics with Special Reference to the Laboratory Products of John Wyeth and Brother.
Philadelphia: John Wyeth and Brother, 1906.
Page 362.


The weight to be used in all shops is that introduced into Bavaria in 1811, as the Apothecaries' weight. … By Mp (Manipulus) half an ounce is understood; by Pg (Pugillus) two drachms, whether the quantity refers to petals or leaves.

The Pharmaceutical Journal, v 4, no 12 (June 1, 1845).
Review of Entwurf einer Arznei-Taxe.
Page 574.


In der Regel müssen nicht nur feste, sondern auch flüssige Körper dem Gewichte nach bestimmt werden. Bei wässrigen Flüssigkeiten aber bedient man sich häufig des Flüssigkeitsmaasses. Einige feste Körper, z.B. Blumen und Kräuter von geringerer Wirksamkeit, werden bisweilen noch nach dem Augenmaasse verordnet, so wie Eier, Citronen u. dgl. nach der Zahl. Sonst verschrieben auch die Aerzte Blumen und Kräuter nach einem sehr unbestimmten Maasse, z. ß. ein Bund (Fasciculus), wofür man jetzt dem Gewicht nach 1 Unze - eine Handvoll (Manipulus), wofür man 1/2 Unze - eine kleine Handvoll oder was man mit drei Fingern fassen kann (Pugillus), wofür man eine Drachme rechnet. Jetzt wird mit Recht diese unbestimmte Verordnung unterlassen, und auf den Recepten gleich die Quantität in Gewichten ausgedrückt.

As a rule not only solid, but also liquid bodies are determined by weight. In the case of aqueous liquids, however, one often makes use of the liquid level. Some solid bodies, e.g. flowers and herbs of lesser potency, will still sometimes be prescribed according to visual estimates, so like eggs, lemons and the like by count. Doctors also prescribed flowers and herbs by a very indefinite measure, e.g. a bundle (Fasciculus), for which one would now say a weight of 1 Unze - a handful (Manipulus), for which ½ Unze - one small handful or what one can grasp with three fingers (Pugillus), which one counts as a drachma. Now these vague measures are rightly discontinued, and on a prescription the quantity is expressed in weights.

J. B. Trommsdorff.
Systematisches Handbuch der Pharmacie für Aerzte und Apotheker, zum Gebruch acedemischer Vorlesungen und zum Unterricht angehender Pharmacevten., 3rd edition.
Erfurt: in der Keyserschen Buchhandlung, 1827.
Page 34, section 83.

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