• View as SlideshowI Have WHAT?!? Complicated Names for Common Conditions

    Like many professions, the field of medicine has developed its own terminology—its own secret lingo so to speak, with medical names often having Greek or Latin roots. Not surprisingly, reading about medicine can sound “all Greek” to lay people—and the complicated words can make relatively minor conditions and normal bodily functions sound more ominous than they are. Here are five examples from topics we’ve covered in recent years, followed by the simpler, more straightforward names by which you likely know them. Perhaps you remember what they are—or can figure them out from our hints.

  • man holding stomach


    Hint: You’re likely to become aware of this if you haven’t eaten in a while.


  • woman with hunger pains

    Translation: Stomach growling

    From the Greek borborugmó, meaning gurgling or rumbling, the noises you hear—which actually originate in the intestines, not the stomach—indicate that things are moving in the digestive tract as they should be.

  • stye on man\'s eye

    External hordeolum

    Hint: This lump can be an eyesore, literally and figuratively.


  • stye

    Translation: A stye

    Derived from the Latin hordeolus (hordeum meaning "barley” and ulus meaning it has the appearance of), this infection—which results in a lump that might resemble an individual grain of barley—occurs when bacteria get into an oil or sweat gland in the eyelid.

  • goosebumps


    Hint: You may experience this when you are cold, frightened, or have an emotional experience.

  • goosebumps on arms, chilly

    Translation: Goosebumps (also called gooseflesh)

    Horripilation comes from the Latin horrere (“to stand on end”) and pilus (“hair”), and the phenomenon occurs when the tiny muscles at the bottom of hair follicles contract. In furry mammals, this causes hairs to “stand on end,” making the animal appear larger to scare off predators. In humans, it is a “vestigial reflex” (it no longer serves a purpose) and instead just makes skin look temporarily bumpy and rough.

  • liver spots

    Solar lentigines

    Hint: Most people will develop them as they get older, especially if they are fair-skinned and have had a lot of sun exposure.

  • age spots on hand

    Translation: Age (or liver) spots

    From the Latin lens (lentils), lentigines are flat, well-defined skin discolorations that can grow to an inch in diameter, sometimes combining with other spots so they look even larger. Age spots are harmless, though they make skin look older.

  • hangover


    Hint: You may have had one after a big celebration.

  • woman with pillow over her head in bed with hangover

    Translation: Hangover

    From the Norwegian word kveis (“discomfort following overindulgence”), this is your body’s response to the breakdown products of alcohol, with symptoms such as headache, dry mouth, nausea, muscle aches, and dizziness.