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June 24, 1992

The Dictionary of Modern Medicine

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago, Ill

JAMA. 1992;267(24):3357-3358. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480240127051

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


As Segen notes in the introduction, this new dictionary is "not designed to replace traditional dictionaries, but rather to complement them." Thus, it avoids terms that one would expect to find in a medical dictionary (eg, anatomical and biochemical terms) and includes no pronunciation guidelines but rather focuses on acronyms, jargon, neologisms, and "the argot of new disciplines, diseases, their diagnosis and therapies." Many of these terms derive from disciplines with which medicine shares the modern milieu: legal, ethical, bureaucratic.

This new slant makes for an enjoyable dictionary to browse through and a useful reference tool. A sampling of terms from the field of law includes Roe v Wade, Nancy Beth Cruzan (provides information on the Cruzan case and data from a New England Journal of Med-icine article on US patients in a persistent vegetative state and the annual cost of caring for them), advance directive, malpractice (an entry