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Watch your language

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As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., the famous American physician and writer, wrote in his essay titled Scholastic and Bedside Teaching: “I would never use a long word… where a short one would answer the purpose. I know there are professors in this country who ‘ligate’ arteries. Other surgeons only tie them, and it stops the bleeding just as well.”

Here are a few more words and phrases to avoid:

  • multiple for many
  • interface for talk
  • time frame, or period of time, for time
  • great majority for most
  • ongoing for continuing
  • demonstrated for showed
  • enhances for increases
  • minimises for decreases
  • optimal for best
  • prior to for before
  • following for after
  • quantify for measure
  • input, impact and dialogue – used as verbs

From Edith Schwager’s book Medical English Usage and Abusage (Greenwood Publishing Group/Oryx Press).

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