Learn medical vocabulary in French

Medical professions in French

Healthcare is a complex sector, with a rich scientific vocabulary. If you're considering a career in this sector, whether in Switzerland or in another French speaking country, it's essential to have a good understanding of medical concepts in French.

French word English word
un médecin a doctor
un médecin généraliste a general practitioner
le personnel soignant the nursing staff
un aide soignant a nursing auxiliary
un infirmier a nurse
un pharmacien a pharmacist
un chirurgien a surgeon
un kinésithérapeute a physiotherapist
un pédiatre a pediatrician
un radiologue a radiologist
une sage-femme a midwife
un dermatologue a dermatologist
un acupuncteur an acupuncturist
un cardiologue a heart specialist / cardiologist
un dentiste a dentist
un gynécologue a gynaecologist
un diététicien a dietician
un psychiatre a psychiatrist
un psychologue a psychologist
un cancérologue a cancerologist
un ostéopathe a osteopath
un orthophoniste a speech therapist
un allergologue a allergist

French anatomy vocabulary

Mastering the vocabulary of anatomy is essential for a good overall understanding of medical French. To be able to take care of a patient, you need to have full knowledge of the vocabulary of the different parts of the body. Here are a few examples:

French word English word
un os a bone
un nerf a nerve
une veine a vein
une artère an artery
une articulation a joint
la salive the saliva
le sang the blood
la tête the head
l’abdomen the abdomen
le cou the neck
le thorax the chest
la main the hand
le bras the arm
l’avant-bras the forearm
le coude the elbow
le poignet the wrist
le doigt the finger
la cheville the ankle
la hanche the hip
les orteils the toes
le pied the foot
la cuisse the thigh
la jambe the leg
l’épaule the shoulder
le genou the knee

Symptoms and illnesses in French

If the English terms used to define illnesses are complex, so are the French ones. Your learning of medical vocabulary will therefore depend to a large extent on memorizing the French expressions used to define the various illnesses.

French word English word
un rhume a cold
la toux cough
un mal de gorge a sore throat
la grippe the flu
être essouflé to be breathless
être enroué to be hoarse
fièvre fever
vomir to vomit
une enflure a swelling
une infection an infection
paralysé paralysed
être cloué au lit to be bedridden
trembler to shake
un mal de tête a headache
se propager to spread
avoir la nausée to feel nauseous
une entorse a dislocation
un AVC a stroke
troubles de la personnalité personality disorders
leucémie leukaemia
être alité to be laid up
asthme asthma
une allergie an allergy
une bronchite a bronchitis
se sentir malade to feel sick
folie lunacy
un claquage musculaire a muscular tear
une névrose nevrosis
le diabète diabetes
une otite an ear infection
la rougeole measles
avoir mal to be in pain
la sclérose en plaques multiple sclerosis
une tumeur a tumour
une verrue a wart
tomber malade to fall ill
engourdissement numbness
une épidémie an epidemic
pathologie pathology

French care and healing vocabulary

Here you'll find a list of care and healing vocabulary in French, essential for taking care of patients and explaining what they need to heal.

French word English word
se remettre de… to recover from…
une ordonnance a prescription
un médicament a medicine
une pilule a pill
soulager to relieve
un cachet a tablet
une pommade an ointment
un diagnostic a diagnosis
un vaccin a vaccin
un antiseptique an antiseptic
prendre des mésures préventives to take preventive measures
une injection a shot
un antidouleur a painkiller
greffer un organe to transplant an organ
recoudre to stitch up
un pansement a plaster
un thermomètre a thermometer
reprendre des forces to gain strength
guérir to cure
un mouchoir a tissue
atténuer to ease
un anti-dépresseur an anti-depressant
prendre des médicaments to take drugs
une gélule a capsule
un sparadrap a sticking plaster
traitement treatment
être hospitalisé to be admitted to hospital
en écharpe in a sling
premiers soins first aid
tâter le pouls to feel the pulse
un plâtre a plaster
en urgence emergency
panser une plaie to dress a wound
effectuer une opération sur quelqu’un to perform an operation on somebody
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