14 Wonderfully Waggish Medical Words

As a copywriter, I love words. Alas, I
am too often tasked with simplifying medical terminology rather than
celebrating it’s complexity. Today, my Dictionary app sent me the
word of the day, scorbutic, an adjective for scurvy. Which led me to
wonder at the plethora (number) of multifarious (diverse) words
physicians must confabulate (discuss). These abstruse (difficult to
understand) words describe conditions both prosaic (common) and
arcane (rare and mysterious).
  • Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
    – Silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhalation silica dust. Not
    surprisingly, the longest word in the English dictionary is a
    medical term
  • Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia
    – the fear of long words. Pity the poor psychiatrist who has to
    not only pronounce this, but code it for reimbursement
  • Witzelsucht – a set of rare
    neurological symptoms characterized by the patient’s uncontrollable
    tendency to pun, tell inappropriate jokes and pointless or
    irrelevant stories at inconvenient moments. It is associated with
    small lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex.
  • Rhinotillexomania – nose picking
  • Mittelschmerz – pain that
    sometimes occurs with ovulation
  • Formication – a feeling that
    insects or other small creatures are crawling on your skin.
  • Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia –
    an ice-cream headache, or “brain-freeze” in the vernacular
  • Morsicatio buccarum – the bump
    that forms after you bite the inside of your cheek
  • Borborygmi – a growling stomach
  • Onychocryptosis – the Greek term
    for an ingrown toenail
  • Sternutate – to sneeze
  • Horripilation – goose bumps
  • Gustatory rhinitis – a runny
    nose caused by eating spicy food
  • Veisalgia – a hangover
› English › Medicine


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