Secret Language of Doctors: MEDICAL TERMS Translated (Medical Resident Vlog)


Hey guys, I’m Siobhan, a first-year medical resident. Today I’m going to let you in on the secret language of doctors and know what the medical words for actually normal English words are. Medicine is actually like a different language at times and you have all these fancy words that mean the same thing as something that we already know in English and as a medical student I felt like I was constantly trying to learn words and look them up on Google and Translate my normal vocabulary into fancy medical terms so that I sounded smart or sound like a doctor. The weird part was today in clinic I actually had the opposite experience. I was thinking in these medical terms and I felt like I had to translate them back into regular English to explain it to patients. As a medical student if you told me that I couldn’t imagine that so soon I would be thinking in this medical language. So that can be overwhelming for medical students, but it can also be overwhelming for patients when they don’t really know what doctors are saying, so it’s our job to be able to express ourselves properly and not actually use all this medical jargon. So here are some common ones and see if you already know some of the translations back and forth. That noise joints make when they crack: crepitus. I always think that sounds like creaking like crepitus. Runny nose: rhinorrhea Actually the first time I heard that I kind of thought it sounded like diarrhea through your nose. And that’s how I remembered it as med student. Listening with a stethoscope: auscultation Growling stomach: Borborygmi. It kinda sounds like more of a stomach like bore bore bore borborygmi. Goose bumps: horripilation. That doesn’t sound so good. When something bursts: perforation. If something breaks: fracture. Rapid alternating movements: diadochokinesia. You actually do this. We get patients to do this fast alternating movement and it’s to test part of the back of their brain, right back here in the cerebellum. Loss of appetite, you just don’t want to eat: anorexia, which is different than anorexia nervosa which is an eating disorder, but just anorexia means that you don’t have any hunger. So if you’re feeling really really sick, and you don’t want to eat, that’s anorexia. Walking: ambulating. I thought this was a weird one because it sounds like ambulance and when you’re in an ambulance, you’re not walking. Anyway, ambulating is walking. Dry-mouth: xerostomia. Dry skin: xerosis. Fainting: syncope. And that feeling when you think you’re about to pass out and everything sort of graying out you want to sit down, that’s called pre-syncope. When the whole room is spinning: vertigo. When someone’s super super super super skinny: cachectic. When you see that it’s just never a good sign. When you don’t really know what caused it: idiopathic. Most frustrating one because we don’t know what causes it. We know it happens, but we don’t know why. Brain freeze: Sphenopalatina Ganglioneuralgia. To be honest I just looked that one up. I didn’t even know that one. Thanks for watching, don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already and let me know in the comments below if you’ve had any experiences where doctors have said strange weird words or if you heard things on TV shows. I’m always curious to hear them. I’ll chat with you guys later.

100 thoughts on “Secret Language of Doctors: MEDICAL TERMS Translated (Medical Resident Vlog)

  1. Funny story this reminded me about…I was born with spina bifida so I've stayed my fair share of time in hospitals and have had lots of surgeries…I remember even as a little kid I learned what the sign 'NPO' on the outside of my door meant REAL QUICK! Lol I used to always hate seeing that sign! :-p lol what can I say, I loved to eat!! 😉

  2. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa ( binge and purge subtype) and was put into adolescent psychiatric unit in yqr but had told doctors it wasn't true since they diagnosed me. I had been telling them they were wrong but they claimed I was in denial. I watched this a did research on cahexia. I think that was the missing piece. How often is it mis diagnosed. I always get extremely nauseous after eating and end up throwing up whenever I eat I can't even keep liquids down half the time. I need advice

  3. I love how you're always laughing and so positive and just…take everything as it comes. Please share your secrets to surviving in the medical field!

  4. "OMG, how is it that all my physicians have been 'ghouls' (degenerates), whereas instead of being analytical they are pretentious and obstructive, (all of them)?…"
    (what happened to the serious-sided, totally engrossed workaholic my grandpa was?…)
    (being a Reiter's Disease stage patient is seriously fagging…)

  5. I work on ambulances and we use the big fancy words too but we also use a lot of acronyms when doing paper work or handover or between each over so some being OAP,PMH,HX,TX,PC,OE, PFO, code brown, ++
    Do yous use them a lot? In paper work or between staff members or that?

  6. I knew idiopathic because I have idiopathic scoliosis. I have a titanium rod keeping a section of my spine straight, so I guess I had idiopathic scoliosis? You be the judge.

  7. Neurologist said i had a phakomatosis. Turns out I don't. I have a rare genetic disease that only 100 people in the world have.

  8. Yes! H.E. – hepatic encephalopathy. I have ESLD. My husband can't say it so he says that brain thing. I've learned a lot with this disease.

  9. When I try to explain my genetic defects and health history to a doctor that is new to me. "I am the queen of itis's" Little medical humor from a patient to you. U r welcome lmbo.

  10. I easily learned this in sports health care from the AT at school. It’s really simple if your intelligence is high.

  11. I went to the ER about a year ago because I passed out while driving and it was a medical resident who came in to talk to me and kept saying syncope and never once explained it to me lol

    Also what you said about the difference about anorexia vs anorexia nervosa blew my mind a little bit

  12. The hand back and forth thing is something I've done A LOT, because I have Arnold Chiari or Chiari II malformation (my cerebellum has moved a little bit down my spine). But I've never heard the latin word for it.

  13. Well, many words derive from Greek. When we see them written down.. they immediately make sense. But when pronounced in English, it's just as tricky as you think of them. For instance, I heard "triskaidekaphobia" and I didn't understand a thing until I saw it written down :D. Btw, the words "xerostomia" and "xerosis" (greek medical term: "xerodermia") are actually pronounced with an "X" in Greek (: ksirostomίa and ksirodermίa).

  14. I learn what “ambulatory” meant [in terms of a wheelchair user being ambulatory] from Annie Elaine.
    Didn’t know doctors used such terms. 🙂

  15. I was trained as a medic and sometime later, I was seeing my family dr, and his nurse asked me if was having trouble with something, I forget what it was, but I did know what she was talking about. She tried 3 times to get across what she meant, and still have no idea what she meant. Finally, I asked her to use medical terminology. She did, and then I knew what she was asking in layman's terms and then I said oh, I know what you mean now and her jaw was bouncing off the floor.

  16. As a mathematics professor I remember all the jargon in my master’s program.

    Like the simplex method for linear optimization; or calculus of transcendental functions; or (one of my favorite topics to teach) a contradictory linear-radical equation with multiple radicals.

  17. As a student studying to become a Clinical Biologist (the people that run all the tests you order, not 100% if a doctor would know what that is, I mean I assume they would but just in case) we had 1 class that was 100% dedicated to learning medical jargon. It was quite nice because they broke down the words and actually the words are base words plus a descriptor, or formulas similar to that, so even if I've never seen a word before, just by knowing the bases and descriptors I can easily understand it. As Medical Students, were you also taught this in a singular class? If not I think it's a great class for everyone in the medical field to take.

  18. One of my most favorite words is "Epistaxis" ….though it does not make sense to me because it doesn't include any other words related to it like though there's blood, there is no hemorrhaging involved in the fancy word 😉

  19. Discovered your channel last night and I’ve been binge watching your vids today as I’m home from work sick. I think you’ve found your call as a doctor! You are def the right person on the job! Your vids are fun and informative. I’m an educated nurse but worked in the field for only three years. Anyways, I really enjoy your vids and keep up the good work!

  20. I recognized 8 of them, 3 of which I recognized from the videos on the YouTube channel Chronically Jaquie.
    Here's a link to it, in case you would like to watch: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKaX0dQwEUgTafzCZ2yEjUQ

  21. Bahaha the brain freeze one is ridiculously long! Wow next time I get a brain freeze I’ll sound so smart 😂

  22. Fun story about "Ambulatory". I used to work for Hospitals. Not as a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or anything, but rather in an IT department. As a programmer, I have absolutely no medical formation whatsoever. I didn't even work IN a hospital, we were in another building. But we had to deal with a ton of medical terms since we had to develop applications that either the medical staff used or that interracted with the other programs used in the hospitals. I must have spent at least 2 years there before I realized "ambulatory" actually meant walking… This makes no sense whatsoever XD

  23. Surgeons seem to use 'doctor speak' the most. In one of my hospital stays I had to learn a lot of surgical terms. The ones I still remember are fem-fem bypass, snorkel, induration, dehiscence, and erythema.

  24. I am so glad I have come across this, it's great filling in the blank spaces, i know a few things and that surprises my nurses, thank you

  25. 2:35 Actually when you are in an ambulance, you are being moved. When you are ambulating, you are moving yourself. Confusion, clarified. Now, if I could just get rid of this annoying tinnitus…

  26. When testing diadochokinesia, at what point do you get worried about the patient? Because I'm struggling to do it as fast as you.

  27. Good thing I never fainted in my life before. I always get symptoms 30 seconds prior to fainting so I can go and get fresh air or sit down or do something to prevent it. It usually only happens when I'm really tired as I usually have low blood pressure.

  28. I'm only a college freshman but a lot of these make sense if you break it down, like goosebumps and you think of "horror" gives you goosebumps.

  29. Try doing that in a different language 😂
    Im greek so some of the medical words are similar to "greek talk". But if you want to "english talk" to a person its 😵

  30. Here's a few sentences using some of the medical terms, One day I was out Ambulating and had a bad case of Orexia, Borborygmi and Xerostomia, I suddenly felt PRE Syncope and thought I might Syncope and suffer a Fracture,. An Ambulance was called and at the hospital the Doctor asked me what happened, I had Sphenopalatine Gangllioneuralgina, the Doctor said they didn't Idiopathic.

  31. Having a general familiarity with root languages, such as ancient Greek and Latin, helps make not just Medical, but all scientific "languages" easier to comprehend.

    Unfortunately, I grew up with medical issues that have continued and broadened in adulthood. One thing I do to ease my anxiety when something comes up is that I research the heck out of it. You can pick up a great deal if you do that for 30 years! For example, I fell straight down on my knee, hurting it pretty badly. I went to the Orthopedic Urgent Care the next day because the swelling wasn't responding to NSAIDs and RICE. They took an x-ray and did an MRI. The doctor pointed out an area below my patella in the MRI saying, "This hematoma is which the swelling isn't going down. You just need to rest it for a couple of weeks and then see if you need physical therapy."

    I looked at him for a moment , looked at the MRI, then back to him. "Since the injury is within 48 hours, you should be able to aspirate the hematoma. Also, is the patella in the right spot? It distinctly looks far left of center."

    He asked me to hold on for a few moments. When he came back, he had another physician with him… apparently he was the orthopedist's PA! Nothing against PA's, I promise, but this slipped by the radiologist as well! Anyhow, the specialist did a physical exam, looked at the pictures, and reset my knee cap and drained the hematoma after making sure it was no longer bleeding. After everything, the doctor asked me, "You've been through the ringer, haven't you?" I responded, "I redefined idiopathic." He blinked before laughing. Of course, they had given me demerol before setting the patella, so I was a bit goofy. LOL

  32. How do you differentiate the ophthalmology terms like: nystagmus, strabismus, etc? I have nystagmus and other eye issues from being a premiee

  33. Hi! I am 11 years old and my dream job since I was 2 was to be a doctor. I have just found your channel a few months ago and I have loved it ever since! Please keep making these videos!

  34. The original meaning of "ambulance" was a mobile field hospital. The word came from the French "hôpital ambulant," meaning "walking hospital." The meaning changed during the Crimean War (the original one in 1854) to mean a vehicle for carrying the wounded. This vehicle sometimes took the form of a stretcher carried by two people (again, the connection with walking).

    The root "rhino-" in rhinorrhea means "nose," and the "-rrhea" means flow. The "-ceros" in rhinoceros means "horn," thus the roots of the word mean "nose horn." The root "dia-" means through, so the roots of "diarrhea" mean "flow through." The roots of "rhinorrhea" mean "nose flow."

  35. I was one of those really sick kids (the kind that won the genetic lottery x3 with relatively significant rare diseases that resulted in a ton of hospitalizations and early exposure to a whole new language) and became incredibly irritated by a new doctor on the ward when I was around 8-9. The kind with horrible bedside manner, always speaking way above your head, intentionally using big words just so his ego could be stroked when someone asks what he’s talking about. Well, I was a stubborn and smart kid who never let a doctor win so when he consulted with his colleagues about my chronic “horripilation”, I waited for them to leave to look up the word (among many others) so I could throw it back in his face with shock the next time he rounded. This served me well and I graduated both high school and college at the top of my class (despite the prognosis my parents originally received that I wouldn’t make it through my teens), achieved tops scores on my SATs, GREs, and MCATs and began an MSTP at an Ivy League uni. Unfortunately, I was spending more time in patient at MGH (guessed the Ivy League yet? 😉) than in the classroom and only made it through the first 2.5 years when I began requiring multi-month hospital stays and pretty advanced supportive services. Again I beat the odds as I was told when I dropped out of my program that I was in my last few years but I’ve made it ten. So mid-thirties and bionic but still loving showing off to new doctors with my advanced understanding of the human body (especially mine) and love watching these videos made by my peers who did what I only dreamed of doing. Thanks for saving lives like mine and educating the public as you do so. Keep up these awesome videos!!!

  36. I feel like I know a lot of those since in French those words are more common. Plus, I’ve visited hospitals more than I’d like to admit. Not only for me though. And I also read lots of medical stuff

  37. In the end wether you are a doctor, nurse or artist,we are just human, we die one day.we are so small in the universe, seems like we don’t matter to this world. If we exist the universe don’t care… But I think this is awesome Doctor’s own language. Well if you are a Potterhead you will know these muggles won’t understand, Potterheads, wizards, witch and even squibs have our own language too.

  38. I'm in a problem-based learning pathway and our last case study involved a patient with "otorrhea". My friend called it ear diarrhea 😀

  39. I have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and when my doctor said that I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about😂

  40. More doctors kinda need to be like you. I've only had one doctor that I was somewhat comfortable talking to.

  41. I have Anorexia nurvosa and it’s so annoying especially when you have a feeding tube (like me)

  42. The term "ambulance" comes from the term "ambulating". Think about the fact that an ambulance is medical care that moves, and you can see where the term ambulance comes from. An ambulance can be seen as a mobile hospital.

  43. This reminds me of Grey's episode. There was this patient to whom the doctor explained the stuff in the medical language for like a minute. And then the patient asks… "In English Please?"😂

  44. Super late to this video haha but only just found this channel. I do this as a psychology student. I used to think how do people so easily talk about Freud vs Yung and Gestalt therapy vs ACT. As well as things like the difference between oppositional defiance disorder and anti-social personality disorder. Now I just discuss it with my colleagues like it's normal…. Super weird.

  45. i knew most of them already because im from greece and most of those words are actual greek words

  46. I’m not even doctor however I’m involved in agency that supports people with developmental delays and autism who there families can’t handle and I often say the medical terms for things when I want to say the English . The nurses at my grandmas long term care home hate me because I always know there medical terms

  47. I sometimes walk down the hallway hearing doctors and nurses talking in medical terminology. Since I've been around doctors and hospitals for 37 years and took medical technology as my first college class, I think to myself "I wonder what they would do if they knew that I understand some of what they are saying?"

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