french-medical-terms

A Pocket Glossary of 140 French Medical Terms for Healthcare Workers or Patients

Doctor, doctor!

Imagine the pâté you ate at that restaurant didn’t agree with you.

Your lovely French vacation has turned into a rendez-vous between you and a porcelain bowl.

Even worse, imagine being sick in a foreign country and not having the words to explain what’s wrong.

Don’t let that be you.

This is where French medical terms come in handy! Hopefully you won’t need them—knock on wood—but you may.

Or maybe you’re a healthcare professional looking to work in a French-speaking country, and are fully expecting to use medical vocabulary on a daily basis.

We’ve got just the prescription for you, too.

In this article, we’ll cover 140 French medical terms for illnesses, body parts, emergency situations, common phrases at the doctor’s office and more.

Ready? Then step into my office.

Learn a foreign language with videos

How Will French Medical Terms Help You?

Why would French medical terminology come in handy, you ask? Besides making you a cultured, worldly individual who speaks French fluently, I can think of two main reasons, as alluded to above:

  • In case of emergency while traveling: Accidents and emergencies happen, so it’s important to be prepared lest something befalls you, a friend, a family member or even a stranger when you’re in a French-speaking region.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and it totally applies here. Be prepared and hopefully an accident won’t become a total disaster! The last thing you’d want is to be at a loss for words.

  • You’re a working or aspiring medical professional: If you’re a medical professional or intern in a Francophone country, your medical vocabulary must be on point so you can communicate effectively with patients and colleagues alike.

Useful Medical French Resources

  • French Emergency numbers: No, 9-1-1 isn’t an internationally recognized phone number. If you’re traveling in France, take the time to familiarize yourself with these important numbers.
  • Authentic French videos on FluentU: As with any vocabulary topic, it’s easiest to learn new words in real French contexts. FluentU makes it easy by transforming authentic French videos, like news reports, TV clips, inspiring talks and more, into personalized language lessons.

Each video comes with interactive captions, flashcards and exercises so you can actively learn and retain vocabulary while you absorb native French speech. Since the videos are organized by genre and learning level, it’s easy to find ones that work for you. For example, check out this day-in-the-life of a Québécois family doctor, or this funny YouTuber’s take on visiting the doctor in France.

FluentU will even suggest new videos based on what you’ve already learned. You can explore the full video library for free with a FluentU trial.

  • “English/French Medical Dictionary:” This dictionary contains a whopping 12,000 medical terms. It’s a must-have for global medical or public health professionals as well as just plain-old adventurer types.

Along with a brief grammatical rundown and a pronunciation guide, the book also includes a questionnaire arranged by medical specialty for taking a complete patient history and physical using English and French phrases.

  • “English-French Medical Dictionary and Phrase Book:” This is a great text for medical professionals who are just beginning their French-learning adventure. It contains about 5,000 medical terms along with a nifty 300-data point template for a complete history and physical using English and French phrases.

140 French Medical Terms That You Should Know (But Hopefully Won’t Need)

For nouns in the list below, we’ve provided the grammatical gender (“f” for feminine, “m” for masculine) in parentheses.

What to Say When You’re Hurt or Sick

Au secours! — Help!

Aidez-moi — Help me

J’ai eu un accident — I had an accident

J’ai besoin d’une ambulance — I need an ambulance

J’ai besoin d’un médecin — I need a doctor

J’ai mal! — I’m in pain!

Je ne vais pas bien — I am not well

Où est-ce qu’on peut trouver un cabinet médical? — Where can one find a doctor’s office?

Parts of the Body

Instead of being that person gesticulating wildly through tears, you’re better off getting familiar with the names of body parts in French. Even when you’re not in pain, many of them are sure to come in handy in day-to-day conversation.

Amygdale (f) — tonsil

Bouche (f) — mouth

Bras (m) — arm

Cheville (f) — ankle

Coeur (m) — heart

Cou (m) — neck

Coude (m) — elbow

Dents (f) — teeth

Doigt (m) — finger

Dos (f) — back

Épaule (f) — shoulder

Estomac (m) — stomach

Foie (m) — liver

Front (m) — forehead

Gencive (f) — gums

Genou (m) — knee

Gorge (f) — throat

Jambe (f) — leg

Joue (f) — cheek

Narine (m) — nostril

Nez (m) — nose

Oeil (m)/Yeux (nmpl) — eye(s)

Oreille (f) — ear

Orteil (f) — toe

Paupière (f) — eyelid

Poitrine (f) — chest

Pouce (f) — thumb

Poumon (m) — lung

Région lombaire (f) — lumbar (lower back)

Rein (m) — kidney

Tête (f) — head

Ventre (m) — abdomen

Vertèbre (f) — vertebra

General Medical Terms

Aide-soignant (m) — orderly

Ambulance (f) — ambulance

Assurance (f) — insurance

Blessure (f) — injury

Bleu (m) — bruise

Cabinet médical (m) — doctor’s office

Carnet de santé (m) — medical record

Diagnostic (m) — diagnosis

Médecin (m) — doctor

Douleur (f) — pain

Effet secondaire (nm) — side effect

Fièvre (f) — fever

Glycémie (f) — blood sugar

Gonflement (m) — swelling

Hôpital (m) — hospital

Infirmier (m), Infirmière (f) — nurse

Inflammation (f) — inflammation

Maladie (f) — illness

Pharmacie (f) — pharmacy

Pouls (m) — pulse

Premiers secours (m) — first aid medical help

Pression artérielle (f) — blood pressure

Radiographie (f) — x-ray

Salive (f) — saliva

Sang (m) — blood

Santé (f) — health

Seringue (f) — syringe

Symptôme (m) — symptom

Trousse de premiers secours (f plural) — first-aid kit

Urgence (nf) — emergency

Vomi (m) — vomit

Common Doctors’ Questions and Phrases

Qu’est-ce qui ne va pas? — What’s wrong?

Qui dois-je contacter en cas d’urgence? — Who is your emergency contact?

C’est la première fois que ceci vous est arrivé? — Is this the first time this has happened to you?

Prenez un comprimé une fois par jour avant de manger — Take a pill once a day before eating

Physical Ailments

Accident vasculaire cérébral (AVC) (m) — stroke

Allergie (f) — allergy

Amygdalite (f) — tonsillitis

Angine (f) — sore throat, strep throat

Aphte (m) — canker sore

Appendicite (f) — appendicitis

Arthrite (f) — arthritis

Asthme (m) — asthma

Bronchite (f) — bronchitis

Bouton de fièvre (m) — cold sore

Commotion cérébrale (f) — concussion

Crise cardiaque (f), infarctus (m) — heart attack

Coup de soleil (m) — sunburn

Diabète sucré (m) — diabetes mellitus

Entorse (f) — sprain

Fracture (f) — fracture

Gastrite (f) — gastritis

Grippe (f) — flu

Hernie (f) — hernia

Infection urinaire (f) — urinary tract infection

Migraine (f) — migraine

Piqûre d’abeille (f) — bee sting

Pneumonie (f) — pneumonia

Rhume (m) — cold

Rougeurs (f plural) — rash

Ulcère (m) — ulcer

Treatments

Anti-douleur (m) — painkiller

Béquille (f) — crutch

Comprimé (m) — tablet

Fauteuil roulant (m) — wheelchair

Medicament (m) — medication

Ordonnance (f) — prescription

Pansement (m) — bandage

Plâtre (m) — cast

Pommade (f) — ointment

Repos (m) — rest

Vaccin (m) — shot, vaccine

French Medical Verbs

These verbs will come in handy when you need to give someone, for example a first responder, the low-down on a situation.

Accoucher — to give birth

Asphyxier — to suffocate

Avaler — to swallow

Blesser — to injure

Cicatriser — to scar

Contusionner — to bruise

Élever — to lift

Hyperventiler — to hyperventilate

Saigner — to bleed

S’étouffer — to choke

S’évanouir — to faint

Gonfler — to swell

Guérir — to heal

Mâcher — to chew

Se faire une entorse à — to sprain

Vomir — to throw up

Adjectives That Describe Bodily Systems

If you find yourself surrounded by people speaking way too darn fast and you can’t pick out every word, adjectives that describe bodily systems can be useful points of reference.

Cardiovasculaire — cardiovascular

Pertains to your heart and blood vessels

Coronaire — coronary

Pertains to the arteries that surround your heart

Gastro-intestinal — gastro-intestinal

Pertains to your stomach or intestine, pancreas, liver and gallbladder

Musculaire — muscular

Pertains to muscles or tendons

Neurologique — neurological

Related to the brain, spinal cord, nerves

Pulmonaire — pulmonary

Related to the lungs

Respiratoire — respiratory

Pertains to parts of the body that help you breathe

Squelettique — skeletal

Relates to the bones, skeleton or joints

Urinaire — urinary

Related to the bladder, kidneys and other parts of the body that are tied to your body’s production of urine

Vasculaire — vascular

Related to blood vessels

 

Well, there you have it! To your health! Or should I say — À votre santé (To your health)!

And One More Thing…

To pick up more new vocabulary (medical and otherwise!) and learn it in context, check out FluentU!

FluentU lets you learn French from real-world content like music videos, commercials, news broadcasts, cartoons and inspiring talks.

Since this content is material that native French speakers actually watch regularly, you’ll get the opportunity to learn real French the way it’s spoken in modern life.

One quick look will give you an idea of the diverse content found on FluentU:

French medical terms

Love the thought of learning French with native materials but afraid you won’t understand what’s being said? FluentU brings authentic French videos within reach of any learner. Interactive captions guide you along the way, so you never miss a word.

French medical terms

Tap on any word to see a definition, in-context usage examples, audio pronunciation, helpful images and more. For example, if you tap on the word “suit,” then this is what appears on your screen:

French medical terms

Don’t stop there, though. Use FluentU to actively practice all the vocabulary in any video through word lists, flashcards, quizzes and fun activities like “fill in the blank.”

French medical terms

As you continue advancing in your French studies, FluentU keeps track of all the grammar and vocabulary that you’ve been learning. It uses your viewed videos and mastered language lessons to recommend more useful videos and give you a 100% personalized experience.

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn French with real-world videos.

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