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Definition of «Rale»

Rale: A type of abnormal lung sound heard through a stethoscope. Rales may be sibilant (whistling), dry (crackling) or wet (more sloshy) depending on the amount and density of fluid refluxing back and forth in the air passages. The word rale is a straight steal from the French rale (minus the circumflex accent over the a). In French, a rale was originally restricted to the death rattle (le rale de mort). After Laennec invented the stethoscope in France in 1815, he borrowed the word rale to apply it to the less ominous, albeit still abnormal, lung sounds he heard through his newfangled instrument.

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