Medical dictionary

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Definition page from Amy Pope's 'A medical dictionary for nurses' (1914) A medical dictionary for nurses (1914).jpg
Definition page from Amy Pope's 'A medical dictionary for nurses' (1914)

A medical dictionary is a lexicon for words used in medicine. The three major medical dictionaries in the United States are Stedman's , Taber's , and Dorland's. Other significant medical dictionaries are distributed by Elsevier. Dictionaries often have multiple versions, with content adapted for different user groups. For example Stedman's Concise Medical Dictionary and Dorland's are for general use and allied health care, while the full text editions are reference works used by medical students, doctors, and health professionals. Medical dictionaries are commonly available in print, online, or as downloadable software packages for personal computers and smartphones.



A page from Robert James's A Medicinal Dictionary; London, 1743-45 James's medical dictionary, explanation of the tables Wellcome L0022702.jpg
A page from Robert James's A Medicinal Dictionary; London, 1743-45
An illustration from Appleton's Medical Dictionary; edited by S. E. Jelliffe (1916) Appleton's medical dictionary (1916) (14761505181).jpg
An illustration from Appleton's Medical Dictionary; edited by S. E. Jelliffe (1916)

The earliest known glossaries of medical terms were discovered on Egyptian papyrus authored around 1600 B.C. [1] Other precursors to modern medical dictionaries include lists of terms compiled from the Hippocratic Corpus in the first century AD. [2] [3]

The Synonyma Simonis Genuensis (the Synonyms of Simon of Genoa), attributed to the physician to Pope Nicholas IV in the year 1288, was printed by Antonius Zarotus at Milan in 1473. Referring to a copy held in the library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Henry wrote in 1905 that "It is the first edition of the first medical dictionary." [4] However, this claim is disputed as the composition only included lists of herbs and drugs. [3] By the time of Antonio Guaineri (died in 1440 [5] ) and Savonarola, this work was used alongside others by Oribasius, Isidore of Seville, Mondino dei Liuzzi, Serapion, and Pietro d'Abano. Then, as now, writers struggled with the terminology used in various translations from earlier Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic works. Later works by Jacques Desparts and Jacopo Berengario da Carpi continued building on the Synonyma. [6] [7]


In medical dictionaries, definitions should to the greatest extent possible be:

See also

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Hippocrates Ancient Greek physician

Hippocrates of Kos, also known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, who is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is traditionally referred to as the "Father of Medicine" in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field, such as the use of prognosis and clinical observation, the systematic categorization of diseases, or the formulation of humoural theory. The Hippocratic school of medicine revolutionized ancient Greek medicine, establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields with which it had traditionally been associated, thus establishing medicine as a profession.

Medicine Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness

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Physician Professional who practices medicine

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Hippocratic Oath Oath of ethics taken by physicians

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath of ethics historically taken by physicians. It is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. The oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remain of paramount significance today. These include the principles of medical confidentiality and non-maleficence. As the seminal articulation of certain principles that continue to guide and inform medical practice, the ancient text is of more than historic and symbolic value. Swearing a modified form of the oath remains a rite of passage for medical graduates in many countries, and is a requirement enshrined in legal statutes of various jurisdictions, such that violations of the oath may carry criminal or other liability beyond the oath's symbolic nature.

Medical ethics System of moral principles of the practice of medicine

Medical ethics is an applied branch of ethics which analyzes the practice of clinical medicine and related scientific research. Medical ethics is based on a set of values that professionals can refer to in the case of any confusion or conflict. These values include the respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. Such tenets may allow doctors, care providers, and families to create a treatment plan and work towards the same common goal. It is important to note that these four values are not ranked in order of importance or relevance and that they all encompass values pertaining to medical ethics. However, a conflict may arise leading to the need for hierarchy in an ethical system, such that some moral elements overrule others with the purpose of applying the best moral judgement to a difficult medical situation. Medical ethics is particularly relevant in decisions regarding involuntary treatment and involuntary commitment.

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Primary care Day-to-day health care given by a health care provider

Primary care is the day-to-day healthcare given by a health care provider. Typically this provider acts as the first contact and principal point of continuing care for patients within a healthcare system, and coordinates other specialist care that the patient may need. Patients commonly receive primary care from professionals such as a primary care physician, a physician assistant, or a nurse practitioner. In some localities, such a professional may be a registered nurse, a pharmacist, a clinical officer, or an Ayurvedic or other traditional medicine professional. Depending on the nature of the health condition, patients may then be referred for secondary or tertiary care.

Signs and symptoms Indications of a medical fact or characteristic

Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced symptoms of an illness, injury, or condition. A sign for example may be a higher or lower temperature than normal, raised or lowered blood pressure or an abnormality showing on a medical scan. A symptom is something out of the ordinary that is experienced by an individual such as feeling feverish, a headache or other pain or pains in the body.

Hippocratic Corpus Collection of around 60 Ancient Greek medical works

The Hippocratic Corpus, or Hippocratic Collection, is a collection of around 60 early Ancient Greek medical works strongly associated with the physician Hippocrates and his teachings. The Hippocratic Corpus covers many diverse aspects of medicine, from Hippocrates' medical theories to what he devised to be ethical means of medical practice, to addressing various illnesses. Even though it is considered as a singular corpus that represents Hippocratic medicine, they vary in content, age, style, methods, and views practiced; therefore, authorship is largely unknown. Hippocrates began Western society's development of medicine, through a delicate blending of the art of healing and scientific observations. What Hippocrates was sharing from within his collection of works was not only how to identify symptoms of disease and proper diagnostic practices, but more essentially, he was alluding to his own form of art, "The art of true living and the art of fine medicine combined." The Hippocratic Corpus became the foundation upon which Western medical practice was built.

Pulmonology Study of respiratory diseases

Pulmonology or pneumology is a medical specialty that deals with diseases involving the respiratory tract. It is also known as respirology, respiratory medicine, or chest medicine in some countries and areas.

In medicine, both ancient and modern, a dyscrasia is any of various disorders. The word has ancient Greek roots meaning "bad mixture". The concept of dyscrasia was developed by the Greek physician Galen, who elaborated a model of health and disease as a structure of elements, qualities, humors, organs, and temperaments. Health was understood in this perspective to be a condition of harmony or balance among these basic components, called eucrasia. Disease was interpreted as the disproportion of bodily fluids or four humours: phlegm, blood, and yellow and black bile. The imbalance was called dyscrasia. In modern medicine, the term is still occasionally used in medical context for an unspecified disorder of the blood, such as a plasma cell dyscrasia.

Tendon reflex may refer to:

Ancient Greek medicine

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Beginning of pregnancy controversy

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Dorland's is the brand name of a family of medical reference works in various media spanning printed books, CD-ROMs, and online content. The flagship products are Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary and Dorland's Pocket Medical Dictionary. The principal dictionary was first published in 1890 as the American Illustrated Medical Dictionary, including 770 pages. The pocket edition, called the American Pocket Medical Dictionary, was first published in 1898, consisting of just over 500 pages.

Stedman's Medical Dictionary is a professional medical dictionary developed for medical students, physicians, researchers, and medical language specialists. Entries include medical terms, abbreviation, acronyms, measurements, and more. Pronunciation and word etymology are provided with most definitions. Stedman’s Medical Dictionary and related products are available with subscription on Stedman's Online.

Definitions of abortion vary from one source to another. Abortion has many definitions that can differ from each other in significant ways. Given the contentious nature of abortion, lawmakers and other stakeholders often face controversy in defining abortion. Language referring to abortion often reflects societal and political opinions . Influential non-state actors like the United Nations and the Roman Catholic Church have also engendered controversy over efforts to define abortion.


  1. Sigerist, HE (1950). A History of Medicine. I. Primitive and Archaic Medicine. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 298–318.
  2. Craik, Elizabeth (2017). "The Lexicographer Erotian as a Guide to the Hippocratic Corpus". JASCA (Japan Studies in Classical Antiquity). 3: 3–16.
  3. 1 2 Ambrose, Charles (2005-04-01). "A Short History of Medical Dictionaries". The Pharos of Alpha Omega Alpha-Honor Medical Society. 68 (2): 24–27.
  4. Henry FP (January 1905). "A Review of the First Book on the Diseases of the Eye, by Benvenutus Grassus, 1474: Exhibition of Three Other Fifteenth Century Monographs (a) The First Medical Dictionary, Synonyma Simonis Genuensis, 1473; (b) The First Book on Diet, By Isaac, 1487, (c) The Second Edition of The First Book on Diseases of Children, By Paulus Bagellardus, 1487". Med Library Hist J. 3 (1): 27–40. PMC   1692319 . PMID   18340862.
  5. Luke DeMaitre Medieval Medicine: The Art of Healing, from Head to Toe (2013) , p. 208, at Google Books
  6. Danielle Jacquart (1990). "Theory, everyday practice, and three fifteenth-century physicians". Osiris. 6: 140–160. doi:10.1086/368698. JSTOR   301784.
  7. Jacobi Partibus (1500). Summula per alphabetum super plurimis remediis et ipsius (in Latin).
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 McPherson, M.; Arango, P.; Fox, H.; Lauver, C.; McManus, M.; Newacheck, P. W.; Perrin, J. M.; Shonkoff, J. P.; Strickland, B. (1998). "A new definition of children with special health care needs". Pediatrics. 102 (1 Pt 1): 137–140. doi:10.1542/peds.102.1.137. PMID   9714637.
  9. 1 2 3 Morse, R. M.; Flavin, D. K. (1992). "The Definition of Alcoholism". JAMA. 268 (8): 1012–1014. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490080086030. PMID   1501306.