This word comes from yesterday’s New York Times in an article by the journalist Anemona Hartocollis about palliative care. Palliative, according to the O.A.D., means releaving pain without addressing the underlying causes. Palliative care, often known by its uglier, blunter name end-of-life care has become one of the foci of the recent health care debate. An early provision for it started unfounded rumors, spread among others by former politican Sarah Palin, of “death panels.” In actuallity, it is merely the process of living out one’s life comfortably and free from pain.
The word finds an interesting origin from the latin verd palliare, which means “to cloak.” Literally, one is cloaking the illness by relieving the pain.