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Commonly Misspelled Words

Habit can sometimes get the better of us. With medical writers, editors, and other encoders, common habits involve writing in the manner we speak and spelling words the way we pronounce or hear them. These are honest mistakes; everybody does it.

Years of experience and education may not correct these habits, but being aware of frequently misspelled words in medicine can help.

Below are some commonly misspelled words.

A
accommodation: note the two c’s and two m’s
afferent vs efferent
ascites: sounds like uh-sight-ees
aphagia vs aphasia
asymmetry and symmetry
auscultation: sounds like oss-cull-tashun

B
basilar: not basalar – bay-sill-urh
barbiturates: sounds like bar-bit-your-uhts
branchial vs brachial

C
callus (noun) and callous (adjective): note the “ous” makes it an adjective
catheterization: sounds just like it looks
chalazion: sounds like kuh-laz-ee-on
circumferential: the adverb is “circumferentially”
chlamydia: sounds like kluh-mid-ee-uh, it’s a bacterial family member
cord: gets mixed up with chord, cor (heart) and core
cor (heart) with core: like in an apple, or the center of

D
debridement: sounds like dee-breed-ment or mont
dependent vs dependant
diaphragm: with a “g,” not diaphram
dyspareunia: sounds like diss-pair-ee-oo-knee-uh

E
enuresis vs anuresis
elicit vs illicit
epididymis: epee-did-ee-muss
erythematosus: arith-uh-mutt-oss-is
exacerbated vs exasperated

G
gamma: note the two m’s; gamma globulin is two words
gas, gases, gassy – gaseous, etc.

H
hemoptysis
hemorrhage
humerus: not humorous
hygiene

I
ileum vs ilium: one is the gut and the other bone
inoculate
insufflate: in-sue-flate

M
malacia: muhl-ace-ee-uh not malasia
mucus (noun) mucous (adjective) and occasionally mucousy
myxedema: mix-id-eema

O
occur – occurring – occurrence
oophorectomy
ophthalmology: people most often leave the first “h” out, and occasionally the “l;” this is not the correct spelling: opthmology

P
palliative
paroxysmal: pair-ox-is-muhl
perfusion vs profusion
perineal vs peroneal
persistent: with a two ‘e’s, not persistant
petechia (peh-teek-ee-uh) or the plural petechiae (peh-teek-ee-eye)
plane vs plain
pleurisy: not pleuricy or pleuracy; plure-iss-see
polyposis: polly-poe-sis
prostate vs prostrate
pruritis vs pruritus: even the experts get this one wrong; it is pruritus
pterygium: tuhr-idg-ee-um

R
regime vs regimen
rhythm

S
sagittal: not saggital – sadg-it-tuhl
scalene: from scalenus not scaline
scarring: two ‘r’s, not scaring
seborrheic: sub-ore-ee-ick
serotonin: sirro-tone-in
senile: and similar usage, arcus senilis not sinilis
shotty lymph nodes: with two ‘t’s. not shoddy
suppuration: supp-ure-ashun

T
tonsil: one ‘l,’not tonsill; but tonsillectomy not tonsillectomy
thoraxes
trachea: trachlear, and combined words with same, trache/o

V
vesicle: and similar words ending in –cle – when in an adjective form are vesical –the cle is changed to cal – e.g., vesical urinary system or combined = vesicourinary

X
xerosis: with an ‘x,’ not zerosis – zear-oh-sis