What does Auris Dextra mean

Medical terminology: the language of medical professionals

Table of Contents

Image: “Medical Terminology” by Michael Havens. License: CC BY 2.0

Medical terminology in studies and work

The subject of medical terminology in the course of study

The subject of medical terminology has been mandatory since 1970 and thus replaces proof of the small Latinum for admission to medical studies. Medical terminology is not examined separately in the Physikum. Ultimately, however, all anatomy questions are also questions in medical terminology, since terms are primarily asked.

The technical language of the medical professions

Doctors, medical assistants, pharmacists, employees in medical supply centers and rehabilitation centers, in nursing homes, at health insurance companies, administrative employees in the pharmaceutical industry and many more use medical terminology on a daily basis.

The concept of terminology

Terminologies are specific specialist vocabulary and serve an efficient technical communication, because this is not possible without the correct and uniform use of technical terms. Since the specific subject areas have an immense vocabulary of technical terms, so-called Terminology management systems for use. You deal with the development, storage and use of technical terms.

Terminology work: science in science

Terminology work done concept-oriented and is therefore particularly for the methodological approach Solution of multilingual communication tasks suitable. Terminology work is very costly due to its immense time consumption. Without good advice and training of terminologists, it will hardly be possible to use terminology successfully and across borders.

Definition and scope of medical terminology

Terminology is defined as The entirety of terms and designations in a subject. In the medical field there are valued 170,000 technical terms. This includes 80,000 names for drugs, 10,000 names for designating organs and parts of the body, 20,000 for organ functions and approx. 60,000 names for disease names.

The active vocabulary of a medical student is estimated by experts at 6,000 - 8,000 technical terms.

Difference between technical language and nomenclature

A Jargon is open to the Influences from other languages, for social Changes, for new scientific Achievements and paradigms. The technical language is open above all because each time defines its own understanding of progress. It is not only the progressive change that is important, but that Culture of every space.

Every concept of illness depends on the culture in which it was coined. Ultimately, it is the culture of a society that turns an appearance into a disease. Therefore, the technical language must remain an open and lively language. A good example of the change in technical language is homosexualitywhich has long been considered a disease.

The nomenclature however, it excludes synonyms and double names entirely. A nomenclature names after systematic rules Things. The terms are completely clear: an anatomical term is only used to designate one structure and only this one structure bears this name. Confusion is therefore impossible.

Medical terminology: sense and use

The use of a technical language should be rapid and clear communication of information serve. It is difficult for those working in the medical field, especially doctors, that they address different groups in their work: colleagues and patients. While the precise naming of the correct terms is essential in collegial discussions and correspondence, medical terminology is in Doctor-patient conversation out of place.

The medical terminology is used for:

  • Transmission of findings
  • Notification of medical professionals
  • documentation
  • Publications and lectures
  • “Code” to exclude laypeople from communication

Historical background of medical terminology

Medical terminology should only be understood against a historical background. It has grown through various medical concepts and theories. Among other things, Hippocrates (read more about Hippocrates and the Hippocratic Oath here), the first scientifically thinking doctor. This can be clearly seen in the large number of Greek terms, the language of the educated at the time.

Developed from the Middle Ages to modern times Latin to the international language of scholars who lingua franca. During the Renaissance and the establishment of anatomy as the scientific basis of medicine, Latin became the terminology of anatomy. Greek terms were sometimes later "Latinized", e.g. diaphragm or condyle.

Note: Latin usually serves as a clear anatomical term, while Greek is used in the exact clinical term.

In modern times, medical terminology was heavily influenced by French and English. French has mainly coined terms from therapy, such as Bandage, dragee, drainage, curettage, lavage, tweezers or pipette. English terms such as Bypass, compliance, coping, informed consent, rooming-in, stress or Tranquilizers.

Basic rules for the spelling of medical terms

  • The first letter of the 1st term is capitalized, all associated attributes are lowercase (example: Arteria pulmonalis dextra).
  • Proper names are capitalized (example: Alzheimer's disease).
  • Diphtongs (double sounds) are written in Germanized notation as umlauts (example: esophagus ⇒Esophagus).
Note: Latin "c" is Germanized to "z" or "k" (example: Appendicitis acuta -> acute appendicitis)

Pronunciation of medical terms

In oral exams such as anatomy certificates, pronunciation rules must be observed. The pronunciation of medical terms is based on the des classic latins. In German, the following pronunciation rules apply to the following letters:

LettersPronunciation as Comments, examples
ae, oeä, öMonosyllabic: praepatellaris, Oesophagus, oculoguttae
ae, oea-e, o-eTwo-syllable: electricityaendometriosis, hematopoese
eu, eieu, eiMonosyllabic inside the word as in today, cheerful: Pneuma, Chegglitis
eu, eie-u, e-iTwo-syllable at the end of the word as e-u and e-i: deltoideus, ossegg
sp, sts-p, s-tSpina, St.ernum (not like spinach or star!), Gastritis
ph, thF, tPyonsphHorsephincter, Thymus, Ophtalmologika
tiziBefore –a, -um, -o, -al: Eminentia, spatium, articulatio, initial
qu, gukw, gwBefore vowels, also before –u: Liquor, oliquus, Unguentum
chch, kWithout clear rules as ch: Cheilitis, A.chirie, as k: Cholera, achromantic
schschAs in shoulder: Schizophrenia, I.schemia
vwV.alva, Tuevertikel, Glaucoma juvenile

Source: W. Caspar (2007): Medical Terminology. Thieme publishing house. P. 5, tab. 1.

Declination of medical terms

As a non-Latin, don't drive yourself crazy! Even if your professor of medical terminology throws around with terms, it is not worthwhile for you to study the declension of nouns and adjectives in minute detail. As in German, Latin has four cases: nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. The constant repetition of the terms allows you to quickly retrieve all important terms such as vocabulary in the correct case. In your medical career, you will seldom be required to change the term to another case.

Morphematics in Medical Terminology

Note: Morphemes are the smallest meaningful unit of a word.


It is very useful to have a number of Prefixes internalize. These building blocks of medical terminology are often derived from prepositions. Knowing prefixes makes it much easier to understand anatomical and clinical terms.

in-en-in, in ... intoInjection, incisura, embolism
intra-endo-inside, insideIntramural, endocardial, intra-role conflict
extra-ecto-, exooutside, outsideEctoderm, extracorporeal
ex)-ek-out, outVasectomy, exitus, extremity
se- –out, away fromSecretion, separate
from (s) -, de-apo-from away, downApoplex, descending, ablatio, N. abducens
ad-pros-to, to, by, up, toAfferent, ascending, accessory, prosthetic
– ana-up, apart, together againAnaphase, anabolic steroids, analysis, anatomy, anamnesis, anastomosis
 –kat (a) -down, afterCatabolic, cataract, catamnesis
post-– after, behindPost-mortem, post-traumatic
– meta-middle, betweenMetabolism, metaphase, meta-analysis
ante-, pro-prae-, pro-forwards, forwards, forwards, forwardsAntebrachium, premorbid, prophylaxis, doctorate, processus
Super-hyper-over, overHyperactive, super infection
supra-epi-above, up, afterEpiphysis, suprarenal, epithelium, epicrisis
sub-, infra-hypo-below, too little, belowHypothyroidism, subfebrile, infraorbital, pituitary, sublingual
iuxtra-paranext to, norm deviation, againstIuxtra-articular, paranoia, parenteral, paradoxical
by-– through, increasePerfusor, peracute
trans-slide-through, across, between, to each otherDialysis, transfusion, transplantation, diabetes, diaphysis, diastole, diarrhea
di (s) –apartDislocation, dissociation,
inter-meso-between, in the middleMesoderm, interval, intermittent
re, contra, ob-anti-back, against, againstAntibodies, antidotes, resonance, contraindications, reversible
consyn-Together, increaseContraction, synthesis, symbiosis, collapse

Source: O. Riha (2011): Medical Terminology. Publishing house scientific scripts. Pp. 66-67.

Some technical terms are composed in a modular manner using several individual terms:

prefix (Example: Endo = inside) → Stem (Ex .: kard = heart) → suffix (Ex .: itis = inflammation) ⇒ endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart)


Make a note of these colors, they appear again and again in many terms.

  • White: albus (lat.), leuk (o) (gr.)
  • Black: niger, melano
  • Gray: griseus, polio-
  • Blue: caeruleus, glauk (o) / kyan (o)
  • Green: viridis, chlorine (o)
  • Yellow: luteus / flavus, kirrh (o)
  • Red: ruber / purpureus, ery (thro)

Terms of the anatomical nomenclature: location designations

An anatomical term almost never consists of just one word. On the contrary: in order to guarantee clarity, many names have been found for the many structures and partial structures of the human body. Nouns are extended by attributes and thus made more precise: adjectives, genitives, appositions and prepositional expressions.

In the dissecting room you will be the first to familiarize yourself with the pair of terms ventral and dorsal be confronted. You can find more important position descriptions as opposing pairs of anatomy here.

Important: positional pairs of opposites

  • dexter (right) and sinister (Left)
  • anterior (located further ahead) and posterior (located further back)
  • superior (the upper one) and inferior (the lower)
  • externus (located further out) and internus (located further inside)
  • profundus (towards the body depth) and superficialis (towards the surface)

Body axes

  • longitudinal (vertical) axis

  • sagittal (penetrating the body from front to back)
  • running transversely to both transversal axis


  • cranialis (cranium: skull) and caudalis (cauda: tail)
  • medialis (medius: the middle one) and lateralis (latus: side)
  • ventral (venter: belly) and dorsalis (dorsum: back)


  • proximalis (proximus: the next) and distalis (distantia: distance)
  • palmaris (palma: palm) and plantaris (planta: sole of the foot, "plant")

Image: “A simple hand, showing anatomical directions” by Esseh. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Rules of the Paris nomina anatomica (PNA, 1955): Abbreviations

From the complicated set of rules still valid today Anatomy nomenclature we take important abbreviations that you will always need when using the anatomy atlas.

A. Arteryartery
V. Venavein
M. Musclemuscle
N. Nervenerve
R. RamusBranch, branch
Eq. Glandulagland
Nd. Nodusnode
Tr. TrunkTrunk, trunk
Lig. Ligamenttape
Nucl. Nucleuscore

Names of the organs

The following table provides a brief overview of the most important organ names. Memorize well!

skincutisderm (ato)
headcaputcephalic (o)
braincerebrumencephalic (o)
eyeoculusophtalm (o)
earaurisot (o)
nosenaresrhin (o)
mouthosstom (ato)
toothdensodont (o)
tonguelinguagloss (o)
heartcorcard (io)
lungpulmopneum (o)
bellyventerlapar (o)
liveriecurhepat (o)
bilebilischol (e)
spleenlienrinse (o)
stomachstomachusgastr (o)
Small intestineileumenter (o)
Colon –col (o)
kidneyrennephr (o)
uterusuterusmetr, hyster

Clinic digression: acronyms everywhere

In the clinical area, there is no sparing use of acronyms: These abbreviations can make life really difficult at first.

There will be RR measured, the patient after EZ and AZ judged and the PSR and ASR tested. Can you TBC recognize on the x-ray? Indications in the laboratory of a LE? How long has the patient been suffering from SLE? The FROM should be administered twice a day. It can be used against the pain NSAIDs be increased. Again CRP and BSG determine!

  • RR = blood pressure according to Riva-Rocci
  • EZ = nutritional status
  • AZ = general condition
  • PSR = patellar tendon reflex
  • ASR = Achilles tendon reflex
  • TBC = tuberculosis
  • PE = pulmonary embolism
  • SLE = systemic lupus erythematosus
  • AB = antibiotic
  • NSAIDs = non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • CRP = C-reactive protein
  • ESR = sedimentation rate

Popular questions in medical terminology

The solutions are given below the sources.

1. In which medical term do you find the color “blue” again?

  1. Ligamentum flavum
  2. Tunica albuginea
  3. cyanosis
  4. Treponema pallidum
  5. Streptococcus viridans

2. Which organ is hidden in the Latin proverb "plenus venter non studet libenter"?

  1. kidney
  2. head
  3. liver
  4. belly
  5. bile

3. The following pairs of terms represent important prefixes in medical terminology. Where are Latin and Greek incorrectly assigned?

  1. ante-, pro / prae-, pro-
  2. iuxtra / para
  3. trans / dia
  4. con / syn
  5. supra / hyper

Course tip: Medical terminology in Germany

Medical terminology forms the basis for learning factual knowledge and medical communication. For medical students and doctors from abroad, medical terminology is an even bigger hurdle. Ours Course on medical terminology in Germany by Lecturio helps you to find your way around your studies and everyday clinical work better. Just try it for free!

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