medical words

12 Oct Double sense words for Spanish medical translators

The most experienced medical translators have – for sure – faced lots of words with double senses. It is, together with false friends, one of the hardest handicaps for medical translators; because a change of the whole text can be totally mislead. Here is a list of words with at least two different meanings to which you must pay careful attention in Spanish medical translation.

How many medical words with more than one meaning do you know?


A “drug” can be both a legal medicine prescribed by doctors (medicamento) or an illegal narcotic substance whose sold is punished by law (droga). Those two meanings can easily appear in an English medical text as they are closely related to intakes or symptoms.



The word “sound” has different meanings. It can be related to the noise (sonido), to a geography accident (estrecho), but also mean healthy (sano). If you are translating a text about Speech and Hearing matters, sounds might easily have at least 2 different interpretations.



“Well” is an adverb meaning satisfactorily (adecuadamente) or an adjective meaning in good health (sano). But they both can also be translated into Spanish as bien. So, the word “well” offers quite similar meanings and translations, but with a subtle difference that must be taken into account by the medical translators.



A “box” is a container for medicines, pills and other drugs (pastillero). Besides, a “box” is an examination room in a hospital (cubículo de hospital). And, into the bargain, a “box” is also a container for stocking up different items; which can be found in a medical centre or any other place (caja).


So Spanish medical translators – or translators of any other language – must always pay attention to words with more than one meaning. The quality of your medical translation will depend on choosing the right one, or – otherwise – the whole text may change its idea.


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