Background Clinicians and palynologists (pollen specialists) often have different ways of expressing the same thing when they write about pollen. Objective This brief paper considers the confusing use of the word pollens that is frequently encountered in medical literature. Methods Three common uses for the word pollens are considered citing examples from clinical literature. The problems associated with each case are explored. Results Words and phrases that can serve as suitable alternatives to the word pollens are presented. The advantages of these alternatives are discussed. Conclusion The word pollens represents a vague usage that obscures the author's intended meaning. Consistent application of the suggested alternatives will enhance the transmission of key concepts in the medical literature.