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How to look for
other unfamiliar pharmaceutical terms
Comments? Questions? Revisions? Mary Chitty
July 10, 2019
But lots of terms aren't here yet. (Some
never will be.) The following sources are particularly suggested. * Most
generally useful for all types of subjects. I may not list/have the
William, Biotechnology A-Z, Oxford University
Press, 2003. About 400 entries/ definitions. Particularly good at explaining
variant meanings and contexts.
Illustrated Medical Dictionary,
W. B. Saunders Co., 29th edition, 2000. 121,160 definitions.
of Biotechnology for Food and
Agriculture, Food and Agricultural Organization, 2002, 3196 terms http://www.fao.org/biotech/index_glossary.asp
Not just for food or agriculture.
* Google definitions
Use define: word or phrase you want http://www.googleguide.com/glossary.html
* IUPAC Comp International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Compendium
of Chemical Terminology: Recommendations, compiled by Alan D. McNaught
and Andrew Wilkinson, Blackwell Science, 1997. "Gold Book" http://www.chemsoc.org/chembytes/goldbook/
See the bibliography for other IUPAC print
and web compilations.
Robert C. and William D. Stansfield, Dictionary of
Genetics, Oxford University Press, 1997. About 6600 definitions.
JM and JAT Dow, Dictionary of Cell & Molecular
Biology, Academic Press, 3rd ed., 1999 7,000+ definitions.
Medical Subject Headings, (PubMed Browser) National Library
of Medicine, Revised annually. 250,000 entry terms, 19,000 main headings.
You can also look for terms in the titles or text words of PubMed Medline
Dictionaries, handbooks, textbooks, websites As
more information is published online, the range of formats used in verifying
and checking MeSH definitions for currency and completeness is expanding.
Online manuals of drugs and other chemicals as well as full text journals
are now also relied upon in creating and maintaining the ever-expanding
Medical Subject Headings vocabulary
(National Human Genome Research Institute), Glossary
of Genetic Terms, ongoing revision. 250+ definitions.
Includes extended audio definitions.
* Onelook Dictionaries, Bob Ware http://onelook.com/index.html
An index to 700+ online dictionaries.
Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
Oxford University Press, 2000. Over 17,000 main entries.
can be very useful. I particularly like the disambiguation pages and the
* Recommended Search
I use Google http://www.google.com
(a lot) more
than any other search engines. Explore the Advanced Search features
and Search tools.
also FAQ #2 for examples. . Are
there others you've found helpful?
The Glossary FAQ question
#3 has information
on using search engines to quantitate variant forms of a word of phrase.
Databases, free and for fee
Electronic databases are great for tracking down current use of terms
and tracing how far back they’ve been used. With a very limited budget I use
free PubMed http://www4.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed/
for the most part. But fee based database vendors can be cost effective and quick.
Additional recommendations for background
Lodish, Harvey, Molecular Cell Biology
links to websites for general patient and disease related
This is a work in progress. I find new (at least to me) words
and phrases nearly every day. Some would be familiar to a specialist. Others
are newly coined. No single source I’ve found is comprehensive in this
interdisciplinary area. And the web isn’t always the best place to find
a clear definition. I particularly recommend the Oxford Dictionary
of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, King's Dictionary
of Genetics and William Bain's Biotechnology from A to Z,
and frequently consult my copies. (And the Oxford English Dictionary
edition and supplements) is a surprisingly fruitful source as well.) A medical
dictionary can also be quite helpful. And Onelook.com is always
But there are a number of terms which I’d be hard-pressed to figure
out without the web.