English Medical Vocabulary: 103+ Useful Words You Should Know
Doctors use some strange words.
You don’t need to be a doctor or have an expert medical vocabulary for day-to-day survival, but it’s still important to know basic English medical terms.
This guide will help teach you some of the basics, as well as some advanced vocabulary, too.
- Body Parts in English
- Systems of the Body in English
- Types of Doctors in English
- Commonly Used English Medical Words
- Why Learn English Medical Vocabulary?
Body Parts in English
- Skeleton — This refers to the bones your body is made up of. It’s the framework that supports your body.
- Brain — The most important organ in your body. It’s protected by your skull and controls all of your thoughts and movements.
- Heart — The other most important organ of the body. This is located in your chest and pumps blood throughout your body.
- Lungs — You have two lungs underneath your ribs. They help breathe in air and keep it in your body.
- Liver — Your liver is located on the right side of your body, beneath your lungs. It helps clean out bile (liquid that helps digestion) and other toxins in your body.
- Stomach — The stomach is located on the right side of your body, next to the liver. It’s where the food you eat gets digested.
- Small intestine — This organ is located underneath the stomach and absorbs nutrients and minerals from your digested food.
- Large intestine — From the small intestine, digested food travels to the large intestine, which helps furthers the digestion process and stores water.
Systems of the Body in English
There are many different types of doctors, body parts and conditions that fall into different categories.
Here are the most common ones in English.
- Cardiovascular — Having to do with your heart, blood vessels and blood.
- Coronary — Relating to the arteries that surround your heart and supply it with blood.
- Gastrointestinal — This is a fancy way to refer to body parts that relate to your stomach or intestine, including your esophagus, small and large intestines, pancreas, liver and gallbladder.
- Integument — This refers to your hair, nails and skin.
- Muscular — This term is pretty straight-forward. It means your muscles and tendons.
- Nervous System / Neurological — This adjective relates to your brain and other systems that control your body, like your spinal cord, nerves and sensory organs.
- Respiratory — These parts of your body help you breathe, such as your nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi and lungs.
- Skeletal — Anything to do with your bones, skeleton and joints.
- Sensory — Do you notice the word “sense” in this word? It has to do with your five senses and their respective body parts, including your eyes, ears, nose, skin and mouth.
- Urinary — This term refers to body parts that control your urine, like the kidneys or bladder.
- Vascular — This word pertains to your blood vessels.
Types of Doctors in English
Here’s a list of common doctors who treat different problems and diseases in English.
Make sure to learn them so you’ll know what kind of doctor to see and get the right kind of advice.
- Allergist (immunologist) — This is a doctor who treats allergies.
- Cardiologist — A doctor who treats hearts and heart disease.
- Dermatologist — A doctor who treats problems related to your skin.
- Gastroenterologist — This is a doctor who treats the stomach and digestive organs.
- Neonatologist — Many married couples visit these because this doctor cares for infants and babies.
- Neurologist — A doctor specializing in brain, spinal cord and nervous system diseases.
- Obstetrician — Expecting mothers visit this doctor because they treat pregnant women.
- Oncologist — A doctor who’s an expert in cancer.
- Ophthalmologist — When you need new prescription glasses, you visit this doctor because they specialize in the eyes.
- Otolaryngologist — An ear, nose and throat doctor.
- Pediatrician — A doctor who cares for young children.
- Podiatrist — A doctor who treats feet and ankle injuries or conditions.
- Psychiatrist — This is a doctor who treats mental illnesses and helps people with depression or similar problems.
- Pulmonologist — A doctor specializing in lungs.
- Rheumatologist — A doctor specializing in diseases of the joints, such as arthritis.
- Sports medicine specialist — If you get an injury while playing a sport or doing a physical activity, you would see this kind of doctor.
Commonly Used English Medical Words
There’s a special medical term for almost everything, including certain body parts or conditions.
Learn these to become more medical-savvy and also improve your fluency overall.
- Abdomen — The area of the body that has your stomach and other digestive organs.
- Adverse — Undesirable or harmful, often used to describe side effects of medication or treatment.
- Allergy — A hypersensitivity reaction to a substance or allergen.
- Ambulance — This is a special kind of truck that brings patients to the hospital when they need help.
- Anesthesia — The numbing or loss of feeling, usually induced for medical procedures.
- Antibiotic — A medication used to treat bacterial infections.
- Bandage — A strip of material used to cover or protect an injured part of the body.
- Benign — Not cancerous or harmful.
- Bilateral — Something (like a disease or injury) that affects both sides of the body.
- Biopsy — The removal and examination of tissue for diagnostic purposes.
- Blood pressure — The pressure of blood in the body.
- Cancer — This is a condition where abnormal cells form and grow on or within the body. In many cases, it can disrupt your organs and other bodily functions.
- Cardiology — The branch of medicine dealing with the heart and its disorders.
- Cast — Have you ever broken your arm? A cast is a hard type of bandage that’s used to support and protect a broken bone.
- Catheter — A flexible tube used for draining fluids or introducing substances into the body.
- Chronic — Lasting over a long period of time.
- Circulation — The movement of blood through the body by the heart and blood vessels.
- Colon — This is another name for the large intestine.
- Crutches — Two long sticks used to support someone who cannot properly walk because of a leg or foot injury.
- Diabetes — A chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar levels.
- Diagnosis — When a doctor or specialist examines your symptoms and identifies an illness or other health problem.
- Discharge — The process of releasing a patient from the hospital after receiving necessary medical care and instructions for continued treatment.
- Emergency Room (ER) — The area of a hospital where individuals with urgent medical conditions receive immediate care.
- Emergency — This is when someone’s injury or illness is so bad or life-threatening that they need immediate medical attention.
- Endoscopy — A medical procedure using a flexible tube with a light and camera to see the inside of the body.
- Epidemic — The rapid spread of a contagious disease affecting a large population.
- Extremity — The part of a limb (arm or leg) that is farthest from the torso. In other words, your hands and feet.
- Fertility — The ability to have children.
- Fever — This is when your body temperature is too high.
- Flu — This is short for influenza, which is a very contagious virus characterized by fever, body aches, congestion, coughs and more.
- Fracture — A fracture is a fancy way of saying a break or crack in someone’s bone.
- Genes — The units of heredity that determine an individual’s characteristics.
- Genetic — Something that is hereditary (passed on to someone from other people in their family)
- Hernia — A condition where part of an organ protrudes through the muscle that surrounds it.
- Hormone — A chemical substance produced by glands in the body, which regulates various bodily functions.
- Hypertension — High blood pressure.
- Hypotension — Low blood pressure.
- Immune — Resistant to or protected against a particular disease.
- In-patient — A patient who stays at a hospital to get treated.
- Incision — A cut made in someone’s skin during surgery.
- Infection — The invasion and colonization of the body by microorganisms.
- Inflammation — The body’s response to injury or infection, characterized by redness, swelling and pain.
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) — A special unit in a hospital that provides intensive care and treatment for very sick patients.
- IV (Intravenous) — A method of delivering medication, fluids or nutrients directly into a patient’s vein through a needle or catheter.
- Laboratory (Lab) — A facility within a hospital where medical tests and analyses are conducted on patient samples to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
- Lesion — An area in an organ or tissue that has received damage from an injury or disease, such as a wound or tumor.
- Medical Records — Documentation containing information about a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, treatments and outcomes.
- Migraine — A severe headache, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light.
- Nausea — The feeling of sickness or the urge to vomit.
- Operating Room (OR) — A specially equipped room where surgical procedures are performed.
- Operation — Another name for surgery or a similar procedure.
- Organs — These are the parts of your body that perform vital functions needed to live, such as your heart, stomach, liver and so on.
- Osteoporosis — A condition characterized by weak and brittle bones.
- Out-patient — A patient that receives treatment outside of a hospital, like at a regular doctor’s office.
- Pain — We’ve all experienced this at some point in our lives. Pain is feeling uncomfortable because of a physical injury or illness.
- Physical — This word has two medical definitions. It could mean relating to the body (for example, “she felt physically weak”) or could it could mean a yearly medical examination by a doctor.
- Prescription — A written order from a healthcare professional for a specific medication or treatment.
- Prognosis — The predicted outcome or course of a disease.
- Prosthesis — An artificial body part replacement.
- Rehabilitation — The process of restoring function after illness or injury.
- Scar — A mark left on the skin or body from an injury.
- Sedative — A medication or substance that calms or relaxes.
- Side effect — An unwanted symptom caused by a medication or medical treatment.
- Stethoscope — A tool used by doctors to listen to sounds produced by the body, particularly the heart and lungs.
- Surgery — The treatment of internal injuries or disorders by cutting open the body and removing or repairing the damaged part.
- Syringe — Another name for a needle. These are used to draw blood from someone or inject them with something, such as a vaccine (see below).
- Thermometer — A device used to take someone’s temperature to see if they have a fever.
- Tumor — This is related to cancer. It’s a swelling part of the body caused by abnormal cells.
- Ultrasound — A diagnostic imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of the body’s internal structures.
- Vaccine — A substance that helps prevent a disease or virus by injecting it into your body.
- Virus — A submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates inside the cells of living organisms and can cause diseases.
- Vomit — A common phrase for this is “throw up.” It’s when you feel sick and expel the food that was in your stomach through your mouth.
- Wheelchair — A chair with wheels used by people who can’t walk.
- X-ray — An X-ray is when the doctor takes a picture of your bones to see if they’re broken, damaged or injured.
Why Learn English Medical Vocabulary?
- It could save your life. It’s all about your health. These English medical words will help you know what kind of doctor to see.
- You’ll be able to accurately describe your problem or condition, so the doctor will know how to treat you. You might need to know these terms even when you aren’t at the doctor’s office. If you know the right terms, you’ll be able to figure out what medicines or vitamins to take to keep you healthy.
- Knowing medical terms can help in your career. If you have an interest in medicine, but haven’t considered a job in the medical field, now is the time to do it. There are so many different jobs that need people with medical knowledge. You could do medical writing, become a medical technician, a medical translator or (of course) a nurse or doctor. All of these jobs will require professional English and knowledge of certain vocabulary words.
- You’ll better understand English media. If you love medical shows (like “Grey’s Anatomy”), learning medical words in English can help you better understand what the show is talking about! You can even use these types of shows and videos to learn English with a program like FluentU, which lets you click on words you don’t know in the subtitles to see their meanings and save them as flashcards.
After reading this post, you should be prepared to choose the right kind of doctor and let them know about any medical conditions you have.
You’ll also be able to understand the information or advice they give you.
Use this to your advantage to stay healthy and happy!