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What is Medical Terminology?

Different professions have different languages. For example, automobile mechanics use terms such as "master cylinder," "gasket," and "overhaul" to describe objects and situations they encounter while working on cars and trucks. Comparatively, medical professionals use terms to describe the objects and situations encountered in their fields. For example, "herpes," "Adam's Apple ," and "pericarditis." The words, or terms, which make up the language of medicine are referred to as the terminology of the medical field, or medical terminology.

Like all languages, medical terminology has changed over time. The basis for medical terminology, however, has remained the same. The majority of medical terms are based in the Latin or Greek language. One such medical term is herpes, which is an inflammatory disease affecting the skin. Herpes is based on the word "herpo," which is Greek for "creep along." Workers in the medical field chose "herpo" – or herpes – to describe the skin condition because it seems to "creep along" the skin.

Here are two web sites that further describes the skin condition known as herpes: Mayo Clinic's Genital Herpes page and The Herpes Resource Center.

If the above link is not working, try to answer the question from the worksheet by going here (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Pictures of Genital Herpes (Physicians Desk Reference site) (Warning: graphic images. Do not navigate here if you don't want to).

Derm Net - Lots of infectious diseases affecting the skin - including Herpes. (Warning: graphic images. Do not navigate here if you don't want to).

(Note: some of the above links do not work all the time. If the links are not in operation, move on to the next question in your worksheet).

Medical terminology also includes words that consist either entirely or partly of personal names, such as Adam's Apple. The term Adam's Apple came from the belief that the biblical Adam was not able to completely swallow the fruit of the forbidden tree, and so it became lodged in his throat, visible to all (Kid's Health: Adam's Apple).


Just for fun: Anatomy Word of the Day Blog : Anatomy Word Index