An important issue to realize when you are trying to learn medical terminology is that it is
in many ways like learning a foreign language. Like a foreign language, medical terms
often sound strange and confusing to the untrained ear. As a result of being unable to
understand the words, they will have very little meaning to you. Although many medical
terms sound strange, confusing, and sometimes intimidating, it is wrong to assume that
only highly educated people can use and understand them.
Medical terms only sound like a foreign language because the vast majority of them have
Greek and Latin origins. Since Greek and Latin are both foreign languages, it makes
sense that medical terms also sound foreign. So, for example, although the word
"microcephaly" certainly sounds strange, all it means is an abnormally small head.
Microcephaly comes from the Greek word, "mikros," which means "small," and the Greek
word "kephale," which means "head." The funny thing is that if you were to say the words
"abnormally small head" to people who only spoke Greek, this would sound just as fancy
and technical to them as the word "microcephaly" does to you.
Another issue to keep in mind is that the vast majority of the English language is based on
foreign languages such as Latin and French. However, even though the words we use in
everyday conversation are based on a foreign language, they do not sound strange to us
because we use them so often. In the same way, doctors, nurses, and other health care
professionals do not feel strange using medical terms because they were taught these
words during their schooling and they use them on a daily basis at work. For people who
are not health care professionals, the reverse is true, and medical terms often sound
strange and complex.
"Where Medical Information is Easy to Understand"™
But why did anyone start using these words to begin with, you ask? One reason is that medical terms
provide one word that describes something that would otherwise take many more words to say. For
example, it is quicker to say "microcephaly" than to say "an abnormally small head." In a profession where
getting things done quickly is very important, the ability to communicate information with as few words as
possible is invaluable.
Medical terminology is also used to reflect the knowledge that one has of his/her particular field of study.
Many people feel assured that a health care professional is competent because he/she can speak fluently
in medical terminology. Likewise, the health care professional often feels a sense of comfort and pride
after using such words. After all, these words do sound fancy and intelligent.
You too will be able to learn medical terms in no time by understanding the origins of these words in Latin,
Greek, or another language. To help you do this, we at MedFriendly have placed the origin of each
medical term at the end of the description for it, whenever possible. The main point that we would like you
to understand is that you do not need to be a doctor in order to use and understand complex-sounding
medical terms. All you need to do is have confidence in yourself and refuse to be intimidated by a word's
sound or length.