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35 Medical Words You Always Mispronounce

Never fear making a fool out of yourself at the doctor’s office again.

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Tinnitus

Say: “TIN-it-us.” That’s how doctors say it, but they’re used to hearing “ti-nite-us” too. These are the medical words you should never get confused.

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Ophthalmologist

Say: “off-thull-MAH-luh-just.” Your eye doctor will want you to take a closer look at all the letters: There’s an H after the P, so it should make an F sound. And don’t forget the first L!

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Diabetes

Say: “die-uh-BEE-teez.” Not: “die-uh-bee-tuss.”

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Alzheimer’s disease

Say: “ALTS-hy-murz.” The Z isn’t hard like you might think it is. And definitely don’t make the mistake of calling it “old timer’s disease.”

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Kegel exercises

Say: “KAY-gull.” Not “kee-gull.”

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Otolaryngologist

Say: “oh-toe-lar-en-GAH-luh-jist.” This is the outrageous hospital lingo doctors and nurses use behind your back. 

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Acid reflux

Say: “A-sid REE-flux.” Not: “acid reflex.”

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Dilate

Say: “DIE-late.” No need to make it three syllables by saying “die-uh-late.”

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Prescription

Say: “pri-SKRIP-shun.” Not “per-skrip-shun.” By the way:

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Diphtheria

Say: “dif-THEER-ee-uh.” The “ph” sounds like an F, not a P. Here are the healthcare terms everyone needs to know. 

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Mastectomy

Say: “mass-TEK-toe-mee.” Don’t skip over the first T.

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Oophorectomy

Say: “oh-uh-fuh-WRECK-tuh-mee.” It’s not an “oof” sound like it looks like.

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Anesthetist

Say: “an-ES-thi-tist.” Unlike “anesthesia,” it has a short E sound. These are the secrets your health insurance company is keeping from you. 

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Prostate

Say: “PRAH-state.” Not to be confused with prostrate, meaning to lie flat on the ground.

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Diarrhea

Say: “die-uh-REE-uh.” Not “die-ree” or “die-uh-rear.” Check out what your stomach pain means here.

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Febrile

Say: “FEB-rile.” Not “feeb-roll.” These are clear signs you’re getting sick.

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Colonoscopy

Say: “koe-lun-AH-skuh-pee.”

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Endoscopy

Say: “end-AH-skuh-pee.” But don’t get confused—“endoscope” is pronounced “end-UH-scope.”

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Scoliosis

Say: “skoh-lee-OH-sis.” Not: “score-lee-oh-sis” or “skuh-lee-oh-sis.” The Alexander technique could fight pain and improve posture.

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Psoriasis

Say: “suh-RYE-uh-sis.” If you’ve never seen it written out, you might be surprised by the silent P. Here’s why you should never confuse psoriasis and eczema, and other medical terms.

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Electrocardiograph

Say: “ill-eck-troh-CAR-dee-uh-graf.” This is what heart doctors do to protect their own hearts.

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Periodontitis

Say: “pay-ree-oh-don-TIE-tiss.” Check out these disease signs your teeth can reveal.

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Pica

Say: “PIKE-uh.” It doesn’t sound like a nickname for Pikachu. Pica is one silent sign of anemia—find more here.

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Gastroenterologist

Say: “gas-troh-en-ter-AH-luh-jist.” These are the things your doctor is thinking but won’t say to your face. 

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Cochlea

Say: “COKE-lee-uh.” That’s the preferred pronunciation, though “KAHK-lee-uh” is also accepted.

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Fissure

Say: “FISH-ur.” Just like someone who catches seafood.

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Esophageal

Say: “iss-off-uh-JEE-ole.” The G sounds like a J. Don’t miss these medical reasons you shouldn’t ignore heartburn.

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Interstitial cystitis

Say: “in-tur-STISH-ul sis-TIE-tis.” Find out symptoms of interstitial cystitis here.

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Cerebral palsy

Say: “suh-REEB-role PAWL-zee.” These are the things you should never lie to your doctor about. 

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Osteopathy

Say: “ah-stee-AH-puh-thee.” Not “ah-stee-OH-puh-thee.”

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Embolus

Say: “EM-buh-luss.” Not: “em-BOLE-us.”

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Endodontics

Say: “en-doe-DON-tix.” Don’t ignore these signs you’re headed for a dental emergency.

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Catheter

Say: “KATH-it-er.” Not: “kay-thut-er. Here are the medical facts everyone should know.

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Homeopathy

Say: “hoe-mee-AH-puh-thee.” The E isn’t silent. These are the craziest medical cases doctors have seen on the job. 

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest