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

Whether you’re living in a French-speaking country or just visiting, you’re going to want to know some medical terminology.

Hopefully, you stay safe and healthy, but you never know when you might need to see a doctor or discuss an ailment.

Plus, health issues and medical treatments are common in everyday conversations. 

And if you work in the medical field with French-speaking patients, these words and phrases are crucial to do your job well.

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.



Parts of the Body

Beyond describing any pain or issue you have with a certain body part, many of these words are sure to come in handy in day-to-day conversation. Check out this post for even more French body parts and some French idioms involving body parts.

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

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 (m plural)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

As you’re learning the terms in this post, it’s a good idea to see them in context so that you know how to actually use them in conversation if you ever need to.

Physical Ailments

In case you develop a cold (or something more serious) while visiting a French-speaking country, here’s some vocabulary to talk about it. 

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)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

General Medical Terms

Here are some general medical terms that might come in handy any time you’re talking to medical professionals or about medical issues.

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 (m)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 (f)emergency
vomi (m)vomit

Medical Treatments

Even if you don’t have to receive any medical treatments while in a French-speaking country, they’re often a part of daily conversations. You’ll want to be able to understand and use these terms.

anti-douleur (m)painkiller
béquille (f)crutch
comprimé (m)tablet
fauteuilroulant (m)wheelchair
médicament (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. Make sure you know how to conjugate them!

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 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
Pertains to the arteries that surround your heart
gastro-intestinal (gastrointestinal)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
Related to the bladder, kidneys and other parts of the body that are tied to your body's production of urine
Related to blood vessels

Emergencies and Asking for Help

If you’re not feeling well or are experiencing a medical emergency, you can use these phrases to let those around you know.

FrenchEnglish Translation
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?

Common Doctors’ Questions and Phrases

Here are some common questions and phrases you might hear from a French doctor. 

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.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

FluentU Ad

Useful Medical French Resources

  • International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers: This nonprofit’s site contains a treasure trove of resources for anyone with a case of wanderlust who’d like to keep safe and informed.
  • Anglo French Medical Society: The Anglo French medical society offers courses in medical French for native English speakers.
  • French Emergency numbers: No, 9-1-1 isn’t a universally recognized phone number. If you’re traveling in France, take the time to familiarize yourself with these important numbers.
  • “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.
  • “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.


By reviewing the words and phrases in this post, you’ll be more prepared to talk about a variety of medical issues and health concerns. 

These French medical terms will help you follow along and engage in everyday conversations and common situations like doctor’s appointments.

To your health! Or should I say, À votre santé!

And one more thing...

If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.

FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:


FluentU brings native French videos with reach. With interactive captions, you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.


For example, if you tap on the word "crois," you'll see this:


Practice and reinforce all the vocabulary you've learned in a given video with learn mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning, and play the mini-games found in our dynamic flashcards, like "fill in the blank."


All throughout, FluentU tracks the vocabulary that you’re learning and uses this information to give you a totally personalized experience. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe