Most Frequently Misspelled Words in Medicine

Often times, our habits get the better of us. In the case of medical writers, editors and other types of encoders—such habits involve writing in the manner we speak and spelling words the way we pronounce or hear them. But don’t beat yourself up about it—these are honest mistakes that no experience and further learning cannot correct.

Found below are some commonly misspelled words to take note of:

A
accommodation – note the 2 c’s and 2 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” to make it an adjective
catheterization – sounds just like it looks
chalazion (sounds like kuh-laz-ee-on)
circumferential (adverb=circumferentially)
chlamydia (sounds like kluh-mid-ee-uh – is a bacterial family member)
cord gets mixed up a lot 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 (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 2 m’s) – gamma globulin is two words
gas, gases, gassy – gaseous, etc.

I
ileum vs ilium – – one is the gut & the other bone)
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
ophthalmology (most often leave the first “h” out, and occasionally the “l” – this is not the correct spelling=opthmology)

P
paroxysmal (pair-ox-is-muhl)
perfusion vs profusion
perineal vs peroneal
persistent (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

S
sagittal (not saggital – sadg-it-tuhl)
scalene (from scalenus) not scaline
scarring (not scaring)
seborrheic (sub-ore-ee-ick)
serotonin (sirro-tone-in)
senile (and similar usage, arcus senilis not sinilis)
shotty lymph nodes (not shoddy)
suppuration (supp-ure-ashun)

T
tonsil (not tonsill, but tonsillectomy not tonsilectomy)
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 (not zerosis – zear-oh-sis)