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For easy reference this guide is organized according to the different possible parts of a dictionary entry in the order in which they appear.


Entry-terms are listed in alphabetical order and are bolded. For the purpose of alphabetization, punctuation marks and spaces are ignored. Alphabetization of the Spanish-English side is identical to that of the English-Spanish side save for the inclusion of the letter ñ, which immediately follows n.

For terms with multiple meanings only those meanings relevant to medicine are translated. For instance, under throw the reader will find to throw up and to throw one’s back out, but not the usual meaning of the word throw.

Chemical names consisting of more than one word are alphabetized according to the first word of the term. Also alphabetized this way are terms, such as black widow, which have meanings different from the sum of their parts. Other terms consisting of more than one word can generally be found as sub-entries under the dominant word of the term, usually a noun. This system lends itself to lists; for example, all the syndromes are listed under syndrome and all the arteries are listed under artery.


Abbreviations immediately follow the term they abbreviate and are enclosed in parentheses. English abbreviations are often used for Spanish terms; for example, INR is used far more often than RNI to abbreviate razón normalizada internacional. Where an abbreviation appears for an English term but not its Spanish counterpart, it can be assumed that the English abbreviation is the one most commonly used.

Grammatical Category:

Notations of grammatical category are italicized abbreviations which indicate the part of speech, number (singular or plural), and gender of the word they follow. Their meanings can be found in the "List of Abbreviations" that follows. The two that might give readers trouble are mf, which applies to Spanish nouns such as cardiólogo -ga, which are masculine or feminine according to context, and m&f, which applies to certain Spanish nouns, such as enzima, which may be treated as either masculine or feminine, irrespective of context.

Irregular inflections:

For English entries these include comparatives formed other than by adding -er or -r, superlatives formed other than by adding -est or -st, plurals formed other than by adding -s or -es, preterites and past participles formed other than by adding -d or -ed, and gerunds formed other than by adding -ing (possibly after dropping a silent e).

For Spanish entries these include plurals formed other than by adding -es to a terminal consonant, plurals which involve a change in the location of an accent, plurals of nouns which end in an accented vowel, and past participles which have endings other than -ado or -ido.

Restrictive labels:

Restrictive labels are italicized words or abbreviations enclosed in parentheses which indicate the region, field of relevance, level of usage, and other attributes of the term being translated. The label '(form)' applies to terms used frequently in writing but which may not be understood by patients; the label '(fam)' applies to terms used frequently in speech, but which might seem overly familiar or inappropriate in certain settings; and the label '(vulg)' applies to terms which should generally be avoided by health practitioners not thoroughly familiar with their usage and connotations. Restrictive labels are often used to discriminate between several meanings of an entry term, as in the following example:

raw adj (food) crudo; (skin, mucous membrane) excoriado (form), pelado, en carne viva


Translations appear in order of preference taking into consideration level of usage (formal before lay), accuracy of translation, frequency of usage, and universality (application to all countries where Spanish is spoken). Translations of the same meaning of an entry term are separated by commas, while translations of different meanings are separated by semicolons (see the previous example under Restrictive Labels.)

For translations to Spanish it happens occasionally that the term preferred by the Real Academia Española (RAE) is not the preferred term according to the criteria previously mentioned. This situation is indicated as follows:

kinesiology n kinesiología, quinesiología (RAE)

Parentheses are used to set off portions of a translation which are either optional, alternative, or required in certain contexts, as in the following examples:

finger n dedo (de la mano)

sense n sentido; — of balance sentido de(l) equilibrio

adapt vt, vi adaptar(se)

generation n generación f; first (second, third, latest, etc.) primera (segunda, tercera, última, etc.) generación

induce vt inducir, provocar; exercise-induced inducido (provocado) por el ejercicio

In the first example, if you are already talking about a finger you could simply use dedo, but out of context dedo could mean toe in which case you would want to use the full translation: dedo de la mano. In the second example the parentheses indicate that sentido de equilibrio and sentido del equilibrio are both acceptable translations. In the third example se is required for the translation of adapt as an intransitive verb but not as a transitive verb. The fourth example is an economical way of demonstrating a pattern of translations. In the fifth example provocado is an alternative to inducido.

Indications of gender:

In the Spanish-English section of the dictionary indications of gender are included in the notations of grammatical category. In the English-Spanish section indications of gender follow the first appearance of a noun translation which is not a masculine noun ending in o or a feminine noun ending in a. This rule does not apply if the gender of the noun is evident from a modifying adjective.


Disambiguations are italicized parenthetical words or phrases that serve to discriminate between different possible meanings of a translation, as in the following example:

báscula f scale (for weighing)


These are bolded and separated from their non-bolded translations by double dots (..). Consecutive example-translation pairs are separated from one another by triple dots (...) as in the following example:

operate vt, vi operar; to operate machinery..operar maquinaria...We need to operate on your leg..Tenemos que operarle (de) la pierna.


For sub-entries the entry-term is replaced by a dash as in the following example:

suite n sala; endoscopy — sala de endoscopia

Dashes are not used to replace the entry-term when the entry-term is pluralized, inflected, or combined with another term by a hyphen. Sub-entries are listed in alphabetical order save that plurals are treated as though they were singular.


In most cases drug names conform to the International Nonproprietary Names (INN) list produced by the World Health Organization. INN names are only labeled as such when they do not appear as the first-listed term. When a United States Adopted Names (USAN) term appears ahead of an INN name, it is labeled, as in the following example:

glyburide (USAN), glibenclamide (INN) n gliburida, glibenclamida (INN)

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