Building Your Medical Vocabulary: 60+ Terms You Need to Know

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MEDICAL ENGLISH 15 Important Medical Terms You need to know

Medical terminology can often feel like a language filled with complex terms and abbreviations that can be overwhelming to comprehend. Whether you’re a healthcare professional looking to expand your knowledge or a curious individual seeking a better understanding of medical jargon, this blog is here to help.

This comprehensive guide will explore over 60 essential medical terms crucial for anyone interested in medicine. From anatomical terms to diagnostic procedures, we will break down each term into simple explanations, making it easier for you to grasp their meanings and usage.

By building your medical vocabulary, you will enhance your communication skills within the medical community and empower yourself to navigate healthcare discussions confidently. So, whether you’re preparing for a medical career or simply want a deeper understanding of your health, this blog is the perfect place to start.

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Why Should You Learn English Medical Vocabulary?

Unlock a world of possibilities with medical vocabulary in English. It holds the potential to save lives and safeguard your well-being. By familiarizing yourself with these terms, you will gain the ability to accurately communicate your concerns to doctors, ensuring proper treatment. Moreover, this knowledge extends beyond the doctor’s office, empowering you to make informed decisions about medications and supplements to maintain optimal health.

The significance of medical terminology extends far beyond personal health. If you are interested in medicine but haven’t explored a career, now is the ideal time to seize the opportunity. The medical industry offers a myriad of diverse professions that value individuals with medical knowledge.

Imagine becoming a medical writer, expertly conveying complex concepts to a wide audience. Alternatively, you could venture into medical technology, where your expertise would contribute to developing cutting-edge advancements. 

Additionally, you may explore the role of a medical translator, bridging language gaps in the global healthcare community. And, of course, the traditional paths of nursing or becoming a doctor are always open, providing the chance to profoundly impact people’s lives. These career paths demand fluency in professional English and a strong command of specialized vocabulary.

The medical field is a dynamic and ever-growing industry. Illness and ailments are inevitable, ensuring the perpetual demand for healthcare professionals. By pursuing a career in medicine, you can enjoy the security of a stable and enduring profession.

Furthermore, mastering medical terminology can also enhance your enjoyment of medical dramas such as “Grey’s Anatomy.” Delve deeper into the show’s intricacies, understanding the medical jargon that shapes the plotlines and character dynamics.

Read Also: Most Useful American Slang Words You Need to Know

Learn the Basics: Body Parts

Let’s start by exploring the fundamental aspects of your well-being: your body’s various components and systems. Interestingly enough, you’ll find that these terms often find their way into everyday conversations in English.

To illustrate, imagine your friend inquiring about your overall health. With assurance, you can respond, “I’m experiencing discomfort in my abdominal region.” Similarly, if a colleague mentions their cardiac concerns, you’ll readily comprehend the context they’re referring to.

By employing these expressions, you not only enhance your communication skills but also demonstrate a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the human body.

  • Brain

The brain is the control center of the body and is responsible for processing information, coordinating body functions, and controlling thoughts, emotions, and movement.

  • Skeleton

The skeleton refers to the framework of bones in the body that provides support, protects organs, and enables movement. It includes the skull, spine, ribs, arms, and legs.

  • Heart 

The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood throughout the body, supplying oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs. It plays a vital role in the circulatory system.

  • Stomach

The stomach is a digestive organ located in the abdomen. It receives food from the esophagus and breaks it down through muscular contractions and the secretion of digestive juices.

  • Lungs 

The lungs are a pair of organs responsible for breathing. They take in oxygen from the air and release carbon dioxide, a waste product of cellular respiration.

  • Liver 

The liver is the largest internal organ in the body and performs numerous vital functions. It filters toxins from the blood, produces bile to aid digestion, stores nutrients, and metabolizes medications.

  • Small intestine

The small intestine is a long, narrow tube that forms part of the digestive system. It receives partially digested food from the stomach and absorbs nutrients into the bloodstream.

  • Large intestine

Also known as the colon, the large intestine is the final section of the digestive tract. It absorbs water and electrolytes from undigested food, forms and stores feces, and eliminates waste from the body.

Read Also: 15 English Phrases To Express Your Feelings

Common Medical Terminology to Help You at the Doctor’s Office or Hospital

Understanding medical terminology can greatly enhance your medical literacy and overall fluency. Familiarizing yourself with these specialized terms allows you to precisely grasp various body parts and conditions. Doing so lets you easily comprehend medical conversations and effectively communicate with healthcare professionals.

For instance, consider the scenario where someone mentions, “My daughter sustained a fracture in her arm during the game, so we promptly sought medical attention at the hospital, where they applied a cast.” With your knowledge of medical terminology, you can precisely interpret the situation and understand the course of action taken.

By delving into the intricacies of medical language, you expand your medical expertise and strengthen your linguistic skills.

  • Emergency 

Refers to a sudden and serious situation that requires immediate medical attention. It can include heart attacks, severe injuries, or life-threatening illnesses.

  • Prosthesis

A device designed to replace a missing body part or enhance the function of a damaged body part. Examples include artificial limbs, dental implants, or prosthetic eyes.

  • In-patient 

A term used to describe someone who has been admitted to a hospital or medical facility and stays there overnight or for an extended period for treatment, monitoring, or surgery.

  • Thermometer 

A medical instrument used to measure body temperature. It helps in diagnosing and monitoring illnesses such as fever or hypothermia.

  • Wheelchair 

A chair with wheels designed for individuals who have difficulty walking or cannot walk due to a disability or injury. It provides mobility and allows individuals to move around.

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  • Bandage

A strip of cloth or material used to cover and protect wounds, injuries, or surgical incisions. It helps in promoting healing, preventing infection, and providing support.

  • Bilateral 

A term used to describe a medical condition or procedure that affects or involves both sides of the body or a paired organ. For example, bilateral knee surgery refers to surgical procedures performed on both knees.

  • Surgery 

A medical procedure that involves making incisions or manipulating body tissues to diagnose, treat, or correct a medical condition. It can be performed for various reasons, such as removing tumors, repairing fractures, or transplanting organs.

  • Out-patient 

Refers to a person who receives medical treatment or care at a hospital, clinic, or medical facility without being admitted or staying overnight. Out-patient visits typically include consultations, diagnostic tests, or minor procedures.

  • Fracture 

A break or crack in a bone. Fractures can occur due to injuries, accidents, or underlying medical conditions. Depending on the severity, treatment may involve immobilization, casting, or surgical intervention.

  • Tumor 

An abnormal mass or growth of cells in the body. Tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). They can occur in various organs or tissues and may require medical intervention, such as surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

  • Vaccine 

A vaccine is a substance that helps protect the body against specific diseases by stimulating the immune system to produce an immune response. It typically contains weakened or killed pathogens or their parts, allowing the body to develop immunity without causing the disease.

  • Vomit 

Vomit refers to the forceful expulsion of the stomach’s contents through the mouth. It is a reflex action that often occurs when the body wants to expel harmful substances or when someone feels nauseous.

  • Pain 

Pain is an unpleasant physical or emotional sensation experienced when the body detects potential or actual damage to tissues. It can range from mild discomfort to severe agony and is the body’s signaling that something is wrong.

  • Physical

In the medical context, “physical” refers to a medical examination or evaluation of a person’s body and overall health. A physical examination usually involves assessing vital signs, such as blood pressure and heart rate, and examining different body systems to detect any abnormalities or signs of illness.

Read Also:  Common English connectors used in everyday conversations

  • Scar 

A scar is a mark or discolored area on the skin after a wound or injury has healed. Scarring is a natural part of the healing process, where the body forms connective tissue to repair the damaged area. Scars can vary in size, shape, and appearance.

  • Syringe

A syringe is a small, hollow instrument with a plunger to inject or withdraw bodily fluids. It consists of a barrel, a needle or nozzle, and a piston-like plunger, which allows precise measurement and control of the fluid being administered or collected.

  • Abdomen

The abdomen refers to the area of the body between the chest and the pelvis, commonly known as the belly. It contains several organs, including the stomach, liver, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive organs. Abdominal pain or discomfort can be a symptom of various conditions affecting these organs.

  • Ambulance

An ambulance is a specially equipped vehicle to transport injured or ill people to medical facilities, such as hospitals, in emergencies. Ambulances are staffed with trained medical personnel who can provide initial treatment and stabilize patients during transport.

  • Cancer 

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. These cells can invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissues. There are many types of cancer, and it can occur in various organs or parts of the body. Cancer treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.

  • Cast 

A rigid, protective covering made of plaster or fiberglass that is used to immobilize and support a broken bone or injured limb during the healing process.

  • Colon

The large intestine, which is responsible for absorbing water and electrolytes from digested food, forming and storing feces, and eliminating waste from the body.

  • Crutches 

Assistive devices that support and aid mobility when a person has an injury or condition affecting their ability to walk. Crutches are typically made of metal or wood and are placed under the arms to provide stability and reduce weight-bearing on the legs.

  • Diagnosis 

The identification or determination of a disease or medical condition based on evaluating signs, symptoms, medical tests, and patient history. It involves recognizing and understanding the nature and cause of an illness or injury.

  • Extremity 

In medicine, “extremity” refers to the body’s limbs, including the arms and legs. It is commonly used to describe injuries or conditions affecting these body parts.

  • Fever 

A temporary increase in body temperature, often associated with an illness or infection. Fever is the body’s natural response to fight off infections and is often accompanied by symptoms such as sweating, chills, and fatigue.

  • Flu 

Short for influenza, it is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, and nasal congestion.

  • Hernia 

A condition in which an organ or tissue protrudes through a weak spot or opening in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. Common types include inguinal hernias (groin area) and hiatal hernias (upper stomach).

  • Incision 

A cut made through the skin and underlying tissues during surgery. Incisions are carefully made to access internal structures for medical treatment or examination.

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  • Lesion

An abnormal area of damaged or diseased tissue which can be caused by injury, infection, or other underlying conditions. Lesions can appear on the skin or inside the body and may be benign or malignant.

  • Operation 

A medical procedure in which a surgeon or medical professional performs a surgical intervention to treat a disease, injury, or condition. Operations may involve incisions, removal or repair of organs, or other therapeutic measures.

  • Organs

Structures within the body that perform specific functions. Examples of organs include the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and brain. These organs work together to maintain bodily functions and keep the body in balance.

  • X-ray 

A diagnostic imaging technique that uses a small amount of radiation to produce images of the inside of the body. X-rays are commonly used to visualize bones, detect fractures, and assess the condition of organs and tissues.

Read Also: Ways to improve your English listening skills

Learn Adjectives That Describe Body Systems and Areas

  • Cardiovascular

This term describes anything related to the heart and blood vessels. It refers to the circulatory system transporting blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body.

  • Coronary 

This adjective specifically relates to the coronary arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. Coronary arteries are crucial for maintaining a healthy heart.

  • Gastrointestinal 

This adjective pertains to the digestive system, which includes the stomach, intestines, and other organs involved in breaking down and processing food.

  • Integument 

This term refers to the skin, hair, nails, and other structures that make up the body’s outer covering. It describes anything related to these external parts.

  • Muscular 

This adjective is associated with the muscular system, which encompasses all the muscles in the body. It describes anything related to muscle structure, function, or physiology.

  • Nervous System/Neurological 

These adjectives describe the complex network of nerves and cells that transmit signals throughout the body. The nervous system controls and coordinates bodily functions and processes sensory information.

  • Respiratory 

This term relates to the respiratory system, which includes the lungs and airways responsible for breathing. Anything associated with breathing or exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide falls under this category.

  • Skeletal 

This adjective describes anything related to the skeletal system, which comprises the bones, joints, and connective tissues that provide structure, support, and protection to the body.

  • Sensory

This term refers to the senses and the sensory organs, such as the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. It describes anything related to perception and the reception of external stimuli.

  • Urinary

This adjective pertains to the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, and associated structures involved in the production and excretion of urine.

  • Vascular 

This term describes anything related to blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries. It refers to the network of vessels responsible for blood circulation throughout the body.

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Determine the Different Types of Doctors

Navigating the realm of medical terminology can be perplexing, and the diversity of unusual names for doctors in specialized fields adds to the confusion. Even individuals proficient in English occasionally find it challenging to determine which doctor to consult. For instance, consider the peculiarity of a doctor specializing in foot and ankle conditions, referred to as a “podiatrist,” a term bearing no resemblance to the word “feet.”

To facilitate your understanding, here’s an assortment of commonly encountered doctors who treat various health issues and possess distinctive titles. Familiarize yourself with these names to ensure that you can identify the appropriate doctor for your needs and receive accurate advice.

  • Podiatrist 

Specializes in foot and ankle conditions.

  • Cardiologist 

Focuses on heart-related ailments and diseases.

  • Gastroenterologist 

Deals with disorders of the digestive system.

  • Ophthalmologist

Provides care for eye-related conditions.

  • Dermatologist

Specializes in treating skin-related issues.

  • Neurologist

Expert in nervous system disorders, including the brain and spinal cord.

  • Orthopedic Surgeon

Performs surgical procedures related to the musculoskeletal system.

  • Psychiatrist

Provides psychiatric evaluations and treatment for mental health conditions.

  • Endocrinologist 

Focuses on endocrine system disorders, such as diabetes or hormonal imbalances.

  • Pulmonologist 

Specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions.

Read Also: 15 Essential Financial Vocabulary Words for English Learners


Developing a robust medical vocabulary is crucial for individuals seeking a profession in the medical industry. This content covers more than 60 terms, providing a strong base to further enhance your understanding of medical terminology. 

By acquainting yourself with these terms, you will be better prepared to communicate efficiently with colleagues, comprehend medical literature, and deliver exceptional patient care. You can download zoundslike, a language-learning app, to further practice and improve pronunciation. Start building your medical vocabulary today and strengthen your abilities in the medical field.

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