English medical terminology – different ways of forming medical terms

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English medical terminology – different ways of forming medical terms

Department of Social Sciences and Medical Humanities, University of Rijeka, School of Medicine; [email protected]
  • Composition
  • Abbreviations
  • Acronyms
  • Derivation
  • Eponyms
  • Mythonyms
  • Toponyms
  • Backronyms
  • English Medical Terminology
  • Compound Terms


In medical terminology, two completely different phenomena can be seen: 1. precisely worked-out and internationally standardised anatomical nomenclature and 2. quickly developing non-standardised terminologies of individual clinical branches. While in the past new medical terms were mostly formed morphologically by means of derivation and composition from Latin and Greek word-forming components, nowadays it is the syntactic method which prevails – the forming of terminological compounds that subsequently turn into abbreviations. Besides the most frequent ways of term formation, there are also some marginal ways, the results of which are acronyms, backcronyms, eponyms, toponyms, mythonyms etc. To understand the meaning of these rather rare medical terms requires us to become familiar with their etymology and motivation. In our paper we will take a look at individual ways of word-formation with focus on marginal procedures.

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