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January 17, 2006 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good medical dictionary.

When I buy reference works, I tend to prefer the "traditional" or "standard" types.

I don't need many pictures or want to use a companion CD-ROM.

This is for work. I read a lot of clinical research protocols on the job. I need a good dictionary of body parts, medical procedures, drug families, diseases and disorders.

So far I'm leaning towards Dorland's.

What's your favorite and why?
posted by mds35 to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Many years ago when I was in a pre-med program, Taber's was the standard book everyone had.

It's been too long, I can't compare based on content, but these were nicely bound and easy to use. And it felt good in my hand, which is always important for a book I was constantly referering too.
posted by beowulf573 at 11:47 AM on January 17, 2006

Taber's seconded. I work in a medical library, and it's the standard here. smaller and more portable than a dorlands. Dorlands has pretty pictures though.
posted by cosmicbandito at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2006

When I use a print dictionary, for some reason I always reach for Stedman's, even though I have Dorland's, Stedman's and Taber's. My impression is that Taber's just isn't comprehensive enough and I guess I just ike the feel of the Stedman's better than the Dorland's. Most often I just use, though, if I'm within arm's reach of a computer -- it includes in its searches the Online Medical Dictionary, which is wonderful (watch for British spellings if you're not using British English). (I train people to do medical transcription, we look up a lot of stuff.)
posted by redheadeb at 12:13 PM on January 17, 2006

Dorland's and Stedman's are the standards. (I do medical editing.) The latter is online here; MerckSource Search uses Dorland's. I happen to prefer Dorland's, but it's pretty much a matter of individual choice (assuming there are no external pressures).
posted by languagehat at 1:06 PM on January 17, 2006

I like Stedman's better, for no particular reason I can name. I've been told that it's the left-brained or intuitive of the two dictionaries, Dorland being the one for right-brainers or sensing types.

Full disclosure: I have a Dorland's coffee cup with the Dorland definition of caffeine printed on it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:49 PM on January 17, 2006

I have Dorland's (30th ed.) and I quite like it. I find it fairly intuitive, with lots of colour pictures. It has been immensely useful to me, a first year med student. It seems like I refer to it for every second word while reading (gah, just like learning French).
posted by flying kumquat at 4:00 PM on January 17, 2006

posted by 6:1 at 4:34 PM on January 17, 2006

Stedman's. All the cool kids have one.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 5:41 PM on January 17, 2006

I used Stedman's (the smaller one, about 6.5 in tall, not-quite-paperback, more like flexible plastic-back) for the first two years of medical school, and Taber's (the PDA version) for the second two as you cannot lug a library behind you on rounds (the nurses get mad and your books grow legs). I'm in the final stretch now, and pretty much use google "" for bizzare diseases that I encounter. Google prolly is your most useful resource (recently exceeded PubMed in sources of traffic for many standard medical sites like, but also the most time-consuming.
posted by gilgul at 6:48 PM on January 17, 2006

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