21 Fancy Medical Terms for Mundane Problems

istock
istock

Your health issues might be mundane, but that’s no reason to be boring. Give your complaints some interesting heft with these fancy medical terms for commonplace problems.

1. Limb falling asleep

That numb feeling that you wake to when you’ve slept on your arm wrong is obdormition. It is followed by a pricking, tingling sensation called paresthesia.

2. Ice cream headache

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Say it five times fast to warm up your mouth and relieve the brain freeze.

3. Muscle twitch

If you ever feel the sudden flutter under your skin from a small bundle of muscle fibers spontaneously contracting, you can say you’re experiencing fasciculation (from fasciculus, “little bundle”).

4. Corn

That callus on your foot may be soft, in which case it’s a heloma molle. If it's hard, it's a heloma durum.

5. Tongue bump

One tiny, swollen taste bud looks like no big deal in the mirror, but feels distractingly humongous in your mouth. It has a big name to match that big feeling: transient lingual papillitis.

6. Ingrown toenail

If you want to go Greek, it’s onychocryptosis (“hidden nail”), but if you prefer Latin, stick with unguis incarnatus (“nail in flesh”).

7. Canker sores

Aphthous stomatitis. Hard to say even without canker sores.

8. Cheek biting

You know how sometimes you bite the inside of your cheek by accident, and then you get that little ridge of tissue that sticks out so that you end up biting it again and again? That’s morsicatio buccarum, baby.

9. Getting the wind knocked out of you

This feels bad, but doesn’t last very long. Just a transient diaphragmatic spasm.

10. Hiccup

The more rhythmic diaphragm action of the hiccup is a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter.

11. Sneeze

Why sneeze when you can sternutate?

12. Eye Floaters

What are those little transparent threads you can see floating across your eyeball when you pay close attention? Just muscae volitantes (“flying flies”) the name for the little bits of protein or other material in the jelly inside your eye.

13. Bed wetting

If you wet the bed at night it’s nocturnal enuresis. If you have accidents during the day it’s diurnal enuresis.

14. Fainting

If you faint at the sight of blood or upon hearing some shocking news, it’s probably vasovagal syncope, an automatic response mediated by the vagus nerve. Tightly laced corsets only make it worse.

15. Dizzy from standing up fast

If a dizzy, head rush feeling is brought on by standing up too fast, it’s orthostatic hypotension.

16. Growling stomach

All that rumbling and gurgling in the stomach and guts goes by the name borborygmi.

17. Goose bumps

The Latin horrere originally referred to bristling, or hair standing on end, a sense captured by the word for goose bumps, horripilation.

18. Nose running from eating spicy food

When you’re sniffling while you’re spooning in that spicy soup, you’ve got gustatory rhinitis.

19. Joints making noise

All that popping, creaking, and cracking of joints when you get out of bed in the morning goes by the name of crepitus, from the Latin for “rattle, crack.” The word decrepit goes back to the same root.

20. Shin splints

People aren’t very impressed by shin splints, but they might be impressed by medial tibial stress syndrome.

21. Hangover

Overdid it last night? Just explain to your boss that you’ve got a bit of veisalgia. This fancy word for hangover was coined in a 2000 paper in a medical journal. It combines the Norwegian word kveis (“uneasiness following debauchery”) with the Greek word for pain.

11 Thoughtful Gifts For Word Lovers

iStock.com/Jelena Danilovic
iStock.com/Jelena Danilovic

It’s easy to spot the logophiles in your life: They’re the people who are addicted to word games, have full libraries at home, or who are always quick to provide you with the word that’s on the tip of your tongue. This holiday season, indulge your loved one’s passion for words with a gift they’ll appreciate.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. Penguin Minis

Box set of miniature books.
Amazon

If you can’t choose just one book to give to the avid reader in your life, this collection makes an excellent stocking stuffer. The miniature box set packs four titles from John Green into an ultra-portable package. Each book is the size of a cell phone, and with onion skin pages, they’re slimmer than your thumb. The books are meant to be held horizontally, and when it’s time to flip the page, just swipe up.

Find It at Amazon for $27.

2. Moleskine’s Book Journal

Cover of book journal.
Moleskine

The new year is a great opportunity to start a book journal. This one from Moleskine is specifically designed for documenting someone’s reading history, with sections for recording general information about the title as well as jotting down impressions and memorable quotes. Like other Moleskine products, this notebook comes with useful features like ribbon bookmarks and an expandable inner pocket.

Find It at Moleskine for $30 and also at these other retailers:

3. Shakespearean Insults Chart

Chart of Shakespearean insults.
Uncommon Goods

Give this chart to someone you know and instantly add color to their insult arsenal. The poster not only list dozens of scathing jabs from the works of Shakespeare, but it also breaks them down into categories like “body qualities” and “personal attributes” and subcategories like “knaves” and “dunghills.” The chart measures 24 by 18 inches and comes with a magnetic birch frame for an extra $30.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $25.

4. KenzaPad

Leather pads for taking notes.
Scott MacMillan, Kickstarter

Smartphones are convenient for taking notes on the go, but it’s hard to beat the tactile sensation of jotting down a thought with a pen and paper. The KenzaPad combines the best elements from both mediums into one handy tool. The pad looks and acts like a wallet on the outside, with pockets for holding keys, cards, and pens. Flip open the magnetic seal and it transforms into a notepad you can hold with one hand and write in with the other. And no thicker than a smartphone, the KenzaPad neatly slips into a purse or pocket.

Find It at Kickstarter or $20 and up.

5. Book Darts

Container of book tabs.
Amazon

Book darts give book lovers ultimate control over their reading experience. Instead of putting down a book mid-paragraph, or rushing to the next page before adding a bookmark, these tools let readers save their place down to the line. With 50 metal tabs per package, they’re also a great, reusable alternative to highlighters or sticky notes.

Find It at Amazon for $8.

6.Personalized Tumble Tower

Tumble tower with engraved blocks.
Uncommon Goods

Give this classic party game a personal touch by customizing the blocks. Before ordering the super-sized set, you can choose to have the names of you and a loved one engraved on one half of the blocks and a special date engraved on the other half. The result makes for a beautiful keepsake, but this set is also meant to be played with: It even comes with a durable carrying sack for lugging it to and from parties.

Find It: Uncommon Goods for $165.

7. Mini Crossword Set

New York Times crossword puzzle set.
The New York Times Store

This mini crossword set comes with everything word lovers need to complete The New York Times’s famous puzzles on the go. Each book comes with 150 condensed crossword puzzles, and the pencil set and carrying case make it easy to fill them out on the train, in the office, or anywhere else the mood strikes.

Find It at:

8. Leatherbound Reference Books

Leather bound reference books.
Food52

Even in today’s internet age, every household should have a few hard-copy reference books on the shelf. These books from Food52 double as elegant statement pieces. Each volume in the set—a dictionary, an atlas, and a thesaurus—is bound in the same tan vachetta leather used to make Italian handbags. The pages of the dictionary and thesaurus are edged in gold, and the atlas in oxblood red.

Find It at Food52 for $172 and up.

9. Due Date Card Necklace

Necklace with library due date card charm.
Jeannine’s Jewels, Etsy

A stamped due date card immediately brings to mind long days curled up with a good library book. At the Etsy shop Jeannine’s Jewels, the familiar item has been turned into a handmade charm pendant. The card is protected inside a filigree bezel and strung on a sterling silver-plated ball chain.

Find It at Etsy for $16.

10. Retro Series Scrabble

Box of retro Scrabble game.
Amazon

Scrabble has been updated several times since its debut, but the original edition remains a classic. This Retro Series-edition of Scrabble is the same version of the game that appeared on shelves in 1949, complete with vintage wood tiles and racks. Whether or not the players stick to words that were dictionary-official 70 years ago is up to them.

Find It at Amazon for $14.

11. Banned Books Socks

Socks with titles of banned books printed on them.
Uncommon Goods

Even the most widely beloved books in literature have received plenty of hate. This pair of banned books socks highlights classic books that have all been pulled from shelves at some point in their histories. One sock features famous banned book titles like The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill a Mockingbird, while the other is covered in blacked-out text.

Find It at Uncommon Goods for $10.

Thoughtful Human's Line of Plantable Greeting Cards Is Here for Life's Most Delicate Scenarios

Thoughtful Human
Thoughtful Human

Not sure how to make amends with that family member you had a fight with a couple years back? Perhaps you want to offer support to a friend going through a painful time—like with depression, cancer, or various kinds of grief—but don't know how. If you're having trouble finding the right words to say, Thoughtful Human wants to help. This unorthodox card company is challenging people to communicate in ways that show "radical compassion and empathy."

Thoughtful Human is essentially the Hallmark of strained relationships and awkward ice-breakers. The messages get straight to the point and say the words you might have trouble voicing aloud. "I was being really selfish and immature. I'm sorry," reads one. "Still mad, but life is short and tradition is tradition. Happy birthday," reads another.

But what truly makes these cards a literal alternative to extending an olive branch is that they're also plantable? All of the cards are made of seed paper, and they generally transform into wildflowers within 10-14 days of being planted. View it as a symbol of the restorative power of communication.

A variety of cards
Thoughtful Human

In a video posted to the company's website, Thoughtful Human's founder, Ali O'Grady, explains that the cards are designed for "dynamic relationships and challenging life circumstances." It's also a deeply personal project: She decided to start the company after losing her father to cancer.

There are cards dedicated to addiction and rehab, depression, grief, injury, long-distance relationships, and other delicate scenarios. Of course, you'll also find plenty of cards for happier times, including thank-you notes and congratulatory messages.

And if you haven't sent out your Christmas cards yet, consider this anti-holiday holiday card: "Shout out to that stranger's baby who locked in a lifetime of undeserved gifts, pie, and vacation time for everyone."

These cards and more can be found on Thoughtful Human's website, on Target.com, and at select Whole Foods stores in California's Bay Area.

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