Let’s increase our vocabulary – how cool is your body!


I’ve noticed a trend when it comes to our languages’ vocabulary with regards to our bodies, so I thought I’d try out something fun with my readers.

Our current vocabulary

So, here’s what I’ve noticed: our language has an inordinate amount of vocabulary to talk about things that aren’t working in our bodies.  We have words for when an organ is too big, too small, not outputting enough of this hormone or absorbing too much of this other hormone.  We have doctors researching why this protein is making you feel unwell, why this body part doesn’t move properly.  We have words to describe feeling achy, stiff, dizzy, itchy, heavy, burning, throbbing… We sometimes get very specific, like saying that someone has mutant alleles at the LDLR, Apo-B, PCSK9, ARH adaptor protein gene locus.

With all these words, you’d think our bodies were just falling apart all the time.  It would be pretty easy to get bummed out over this.

But, here’s the thing: our bodies are pretty cool.  I’d say they’re even pretty miraculous.  We have all these words that focus on what can go wrong with our bodies, we seem to be unable to express all the great stuff that does work!

Our cool bodies

Let’s think about this for a bit.  You can read this screen, can’t you?  That means you have millions of neurons in our eyes that are capturing the light emitted from your computer screen, turning it into electricity and zipping it down to your brain.  Your brain then takes these electrical impulses and interprets them into words and sentences that your consciousness can understand.

If you’re reading this, it also likely means you have hands that you used to move a mouse cursor across a screen to click a the link to the internet.  That means that all the muscle tissue worked together to form a coordinated movement, after receiving a message sent down from your brain to perform the task.

I’m going to guess that as you read this, you’re also breathing.  Muscles in your abdomen expanded so that air can get into your lungs which promptly extracted the oxygen in its thousands of alveoli and passed it onto the blood stream.

If you walked today, you had many muscles work to keep you balanced and moving forward.

I also think it’s really cool that all the cells and organs are working together like little communities to help each other out and keep the larger organism (that’s you!) alive and well.  The cells in one part of your body can say “okay, I’m done processing this energy source.  I have some trash to get rid of”, and your kidney is happy to collect that trash to neutralise it and get it out of the body. (If only we humans treated each other as harmoniously as our cells treat each other, but that’s a topic for another day.)

It’s so complex and fascinating, and I think that it gives us a lot to be grateful for.

So, let’s have some fun

Our bodies do so many things that work in harmony, we should have words to talk about these little wonders!  If we have a word like “headache”, we should have a word like “headwell”.  If we have “tendonitis”, let’s talk about our “tendon-right-size.”  This is where the fun begins!

Let’s all think up of words to describe our bodies in great working condition.  If you have old anatomy textbooks or even some Greek / Latin knowledge, use your imagination to create some great vocabulary.  You can refer to a list of medical terms on Wikipedia for some inspiration too. Or, be un-scientific and make up words à la J.K.Rowling!

Then, just like any vocabulary exercise, let’s use these new words in a sentence.  Here, I’ll get us started:

 hyperarticuliustificus:

My joints work extremely well, and I am grateful for my hyperarticuliustificus!

As far as I can tell, I haven’t seen anybody else online creating words for our healthy body parts, so let’s get the ball rolling. Create one yourself and leave it in the comments below, and then share this page with friends and family.  If you want to share this via Twitter, let’s use the hashtag #WordsForHealth to round up all the great creations we’re going to come up with.

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