October 07, 2008

Cranky Fitness Explains Medical Terminology

Photo credit: Marion Doss

Here at Cranky Fitness we spend most of our time devoting ourselves with sleepless dedication to a tireless quest for the latest in cupcake research scientific research. Our staff of mad cranky Guys in White Coats spend hours searching out things such as where to put the element of surprise in the idiotic table and how to get the best parking space around.

Photo credit: pheezy

All this hard work... seems to me that we've been getting a bit serious around here, what with pesticides causing toxic fat and cell phones causing cancer in semi-hypothetical situations and all that kind of stuff.

Not all science has to be completely serious. For instance, we're proud to report that the 2008 Ig Nobel prizes were handed out on Friday. These are frivolous prizes awarded for research that was actually undertaken by serious scientists. When I first heard of these, I thought it was mean to make fun of researchers who are sincerely trying to find out new truths... and then I read about the research studies in question.

Some examples:

The Ig Nobel Nutrition prize went to "a pair of researchers who showed that manipulating the sound made by eating Pringles crisps can fool people into thinking a stale crisp is perfectly fresh."

The Ig Nobel Biology prize went to some guys who discovered that "fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than fleas that live on a cat."

The Ig Nobel Chemistry prize went to two teams of doctors: "one team discovered that Coke is an effective spermacide [sic]; the other team discovered that it is not." (Yep, that sounds like science to me.)

Anyway, what I was thinking was -- why should scientists have all the fun? I figure the time has come to put forth another Cranky Fitness Dictionary post. It's time to explain all that tedious medical terminology that you always wondered about, but were too busy to ask.

Besides, as Dr. House (or at least Hugh Laurie) would testify, medical terminology is tricky. Hopefully the following list will edify enlighten not make medicine more confusing.

BMI -- what a plastic surgeon drives early in his career, before he's worked his way up to a BMW.

Cardio -- what daddy-o hands to his daughter before her shopping spree at the mall.

Cellulite -- (alternate spelling "sell-u-light") a marvelous marketing opportunity for unscrupulous snake oil salesmen.

Co-pay -- what the patient has to pay. As opposed to no-pay, which is the usual response of an insurance company.

Cough syrup -- what you should take when you're feeling cough-ful.

Diet -- the Japanese parliament, of course.

Doctor -- something you should never do to a drink.

Fat -- (to a fashion model) being .05 mg overweight.
(to a sumo wrestler) Huh? What's wrong with the way I look?

High-blood pressure -- a normal physiological reaction to getting a letter from your insurance company.

In-patient -- the hip, cool kind of patient, who typically wears the latest in hospital chic.

Knee-jerk reaction -- a reaction where you want to knee the jerk.

Nurse -- something it's okay to do to a drink, especially if you're the designated driver.

Phat -- a shining example of how changing the spelling of a word can turn an insult into a compliment. According to the Wiktionary, Phat means excellent, sexy, or "rich in texture" [referring to music].

Speculum - a speculative device that medical personnel use to explore parts you'd rather they didn't.

Vegetable -- 1) something you're supposed to eat a whole lot of 2) an unkind term for a patient in a coma. Those two definitions look really creepy next to each other.

Is there any other aspect of medical terminology that you think needs a new definition? If there is, leave it in the comments, hopefully with a new definition as well. (I have to say, the best definitions are usually in the comment section.)


  1. Aah, I love the Ig Nobel prizes. But I can't decide if they make me feel better or worse leaving academia.

  2. Dude I can't believe you didn't mention the Ig Nobel Economics prize...

    "Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that a professional lap dancer's ovulatory cycle affects her tip earnings."

  3. After reading about some of the Darwin award winners, these Ig Nobels don't surprise me at all.

    As for funny medical terms, my favorite is always MTHUTBC -- my tummy hurts until the bus comes.


  4. Monica, I thought about that one. Especially when the head researcher, when accepting the prize, emphatically pointed out that he did not need any more assistants to carry out this research ;)

    Messymimi, I think I actually prefer the Ig Nobels to the Darwins. After all, with the Ig Nobels a lot of the scientists who win show up to accept their awards :)

  5. My original goal was to have an article published in the Journal of Irreproducible Results, but I got sidetracked into the blog world instead!

  6. That's hysterical!

    (I'm a RN, I'm going to have to share this!)

  7. "Ig Nobel"!!! That's hilarious. I've never heard of these before. Well, there goes the rest of my day;)

  8. I didn't even realize what this was and I'm in academia! So clueless and so very sad. This was fabulous.

  9. You have got to be the funniest person I know!

  10. MessyMimi - my 7 year old has a variation of that same affliction, except hers is called MTHWITTCMR - my tummy hurts when it's time to clean my room.


  11. Great post. I almost spat coffee all over my monitor.

  12. Merry, you and I are on the same wavelength today! I posted about the spermicidal effect (or lack thereof) of Coke in today's post as well :)

    I love that economist one, that's priceless.

    The chemistry one for last year was scientists figuring out how to extract vanilla from cow dung. Ummmmmm.....ew?

  13. The idiotic table made me spit out my coffee. Brilliant.
    It's way more intreseting than the normal table of elemants on my lab wall here...:)

    LOVE the terminology :)
    Who needs the latin...they make more sense to me :)

  14. Unless they're trying to find a way to keep fleas from jumping at all, I can't figure out the point of that research. The Ig Nobels always make me feel better about my own minute, sometimes not-that-important area of research.

  15. Hilarious! I have a definition, and although it's not technically medical terminology, it does apply to a few doctors I know:

    Ignoranus: A person who is both stupid AND an asshole.

    That won some kind of award for best definition. I wish I could remember what it was so I could give proper credit.

  16. too creative...too clever...too early in the morning...you're making my brain hurt...

    Kelly Turner

  17. Hehe those Ig Nobel prizes are awesome. As are your definitions. Thanks for making me laugh!

  18. Since I also work in research (although not as an actual researcher), it's so much fun to see what people are actual getting research funding for....

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. I forgot one.
    Hip replacement: an operation that is required when you lose your 'cool'

  20. these are great, especially the co-pay. So very true! I'm not that creative, but I'll keep thinking about it!

  21. I'm amused that the Lab Coats have a sense of humor...So true about Phat! Brilliant observation.

  22. Lab rat - the person who snitches on the other reseachers.


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