Introduction To Medical Terminology

We don’t really need to explain what medical terminology is. It’s the specific terms used in the medical field. There must be a unified language. Otherwise nurses would be referring to apples and doctors would be calling them oranges. In case you haven’t heard, medical terminology requires an insanely good memory. We’re not talking about megabytes of memory.  Gigabytes.  Terabytes! No, terabytes is not a medical term so don’t worry about memorizing it.

Medical terminology includes words that refer to human anatomy and physiology, the location of human body parts, diseases, clinical testing, diagnostic testing, and lab testing as well as the procedures, surgeries, and diagnoses associated with clinics and hospitals. Medical terminology makes it possible to refer to a disease or illness that might take 20 words to describe. For example,hysterectomy is a single-word term that refers to “the surgical removal of the uterus.”

Understanding medical terminology begins with etymology, which helps you determine the origin of a word. Merriam-Webster defines etymology as “the history of a linguistic form (as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language.” Phew.  That’s a mouthful, for sure. Etymology utilizes Latin and Greek to help determine the exact origin of a word.

Most medical terms have a root word.  The root word is the basic form around which the final word is formed. The final word might include a prefix or suffix. Prefixes appear at the beginning of the word and suffixes appear at the end of the word. Once we explain the simple procedure, you’ll easily be able to determine the root word as well as identify the prefix or suffix, if the word contains one.

In this course we’ll be using a lot of tables. We’ve discovered that certain information is best presented on tables. Some people like to read a list of 10 words.  Other people operate on a more visual level and like to see the words presented in an open table. We’ll use tables since they appear to be the norm for instructional materials used in the medical field.

The states in New England are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Without looking, how many states are there in New England? Now look at the table below.

New England States
New Hampshire
Rhode Island

We hope you find tables more visually appealing than lists. Most of this course will include tables.