Medical and Health Idioms
alive and kicking
- to be well and healthyMy aunt is ninety years old and she is very much alive and kicking.
alive and well
- to be well and healthyThe worker was alive and well after the accident.
as fit as a fiddle
- to be healthy and physically fitMy grandfather is ninety years old but he is as fit as a fiddle.
as pale as a ghost
- extremely paleMy grandfather was as pale as a ghost when he entered the hospital.
as pale as death
- extremely paleThe woman in the hospital waiting room was as pale as death.
at death's door
- very near deathThe sales manager was at death's door after his heart attack.
back on one's feet
- physically healthy againMy mother is back on her feet after being sick for two weeks.
bitter pill to swallow
- an unpleasant fact that one must acceptLosing the election was a bitter pill to swallow for the candidate.
- bruised, showing signs of having been physically harmedMy arm was black-and-blue after falling down the stairs.
- to lose consciousness, to faint, to pass outThe football player blacked out after being hit by the other player.
- to lose control of one's emotions, to have a nervous collapseThe woman broke down while the lawyer questioned her at the trial.
break out in a cold sweat
- to perspire from fever or anxietyI usually break out in a cold sweat when I have to make a speech.
break out in (something)
- to begin showing a rash or other skin disorderI broke out in a rash after eating the shrimp at the restaurant.
breathe one's last
- to dieThe man breathed his last after a long illness.
bring (someone) around
- to restore someone to health or consciousness, to cure someoneThe medical workers were able to bring the man around after the accident.
bring (someone) to
- to restore someone to consciousness after anesthesia/hypnosis/faintingWe tried hard to bring the woman to after the car accident.
bundle of nerves
- a very nervous or anxious personThe woman is a bundle of nerves after looking after her three children.
burn (oneself) out
- to become very tired and almost sick from doing something for a long time or from working too hardAfter working long hours for many months the woman finally burned herself out.
catch a cold
- to get a coldI caught a cold last week and had to miss four days of work.
catch one's death of cold
- to become very ill (with a cold/flu etc.)The little boy was told to be careful in the rain or he would catch his death of cold.
- an examination of a patient by a doctorI plan to have my annual check-up next week.
clean bill of health
- a report or certificate that a person or animal is healthyMy doctor gave me a clean bill of health when I visited him last month.
come down with (something)
- to become sick with something, to catch an illnessMy niece came down with a cold and was unable to visit me last week.
- a psychoanalyst or psychiatrist who puts his patients on a couch to talk to themThe man was sent to see a couch doctor because of his many problems.
die a natural death
- to die by disease or of old age and not by an accident or by violenceMy grandfather was very old and he died a natural death.
a dose of one's own medicine
- the same treatment that one gives to others (usually this has a negative meaning)We gave the boy a dose of his own medicine after he bullied us.
- to make someone bleed, to get blood from someoneThe doctor decided to draw blood from the patient in order to check his blood sugar level.
- to die suddenlyThe bus driver dropped dead while driving the bus.
- to become sick or illThe man fell ill last winter and has not recovered yet.
- to feel well and healthyI feel fit so I plan to go for a long walk this weekend.
feel on top of the world
- to feel very healthyI have been feeling on top of the world since I quit my job.
fill a prescription
- to get some medicine from a pharmacy (drug store) with the orders from a doctorThe man went to the drug store to fill a prescription.
- to begin again suddenly (an illness or a disease)My mother's skin problem flared up when she started to use the new hand soap.
- a sudden worsening of a health conditionThere was a flare-up of my father's sickness last week.
get a black eye
- to get a bruise or darkened eye after being hit or after bumping into somethingThe boy got a black eye when he fell in the playground.
get a charley horse
- to develop a cramp in the arm or the legThe swimmer got a charley horse while he was swimming.
get a checkup
- to receive a physical examination from a doctorI go to the doctor every year to get a checkup.
get over (something)
- to overcome a difficulty, to recover from an illness or shockThe woman is having trouble getting over her father`s death.
- to become illI got sick yesterday and did not go to the movie.
get (something) out of one's system
- to get rid of the desire to do somethingI went on a short holiday so that I could get travelling out of my system.
- to become well, to become healthy againThe boy was sick but now he is getting well.
- to have a babyThe woman gave birth to a baby boy last night.
go under the knife
- to have an operation in surgeryThe woman went under the knife at the hospital last evening.
green around the gills
- to look sickMy colleague was looking a little green around the gills when he came to work today.
hang out one's shingle
- to open an office or business - especially in a professionThe doctor decided to hang out his shingle as soon as he finished medical school.
have a physical (examination)
- to get a medical check-upOur company sent all the employees to have a physical last week.
have foot-in-mouth disease
- to embarrass oneself through a silly mistakeThe man has foot-in-mouth disease and is always saying stupid things.
have one foot in the grave
- to be near death (usually because of old age or illness)My uncle is very sick and has one foot in the grave.
- a psychiatristThe man went to see a head shrinker after his recent problems at work.
in a family way
- pregnant, going to have a babyOur new secretary is in a family way and plans to stop working soon.
in good shape/condition
- in good physical condition, functioning or working wellMy grandfather is in very good shape.
- a woman going through childbirthThe woman was in labor for three hours.
- a disease that seems to be getting betterThe cancer of my neighbor's mother has been in remission for several months.
- undergoing surgery, doing surgeryThe patient was in surgery for several hours this morning.
in the best of health
- very healthyMy father has been in the best of health for many years.
in the pink
- in very good healthMy grandmother is in the pink and is doing very well.
just what the doctor ordered
- exactly what is needed or wantedA nice hot bath was just what the doctor ordered after my long day at work.
kick a habit
- to break or stop a bad habitThe man used to smoke but he was able to kick the habit.
kink in one's neck
- a cramp in one's neck that causes painI woke up this morning with a kink in my neck.
lapse into a coma
- to go into a comaThe woman lapsed into a coma soon after the accident.
look the picture of health
- to be in good health, to look very healthyMy uncle looked the picture of health when I saw him last week.
nothing but skin and bones
- to be very thin or emaciatedThe young man was nothing but skin and bones when he returned from the long camping trip.
nurse (someone) back to health
- to give someone care to restore him or her to good healthMy mother spent several weeks with my grandmother trying to nurse her back to health.
- taking medicine for a current medical problemThe woman has been on medication for many years.
on the mend
- becoming better, becoming well, healingMy grandfather is on the mend after he broke his leg last week.
an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
- it is easier to prevent something bad than to deal with the resultsAn ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I decided to stay home and rest rather than go out in the cold with my sore throat.
- unconscious, to have faintedThe patient was out cold because of the anesthesia when he entered the operating room.
out of condition
- not in good physical conditionI am out of condition and I need to exercise more.
out of shape
- not in good physical conditionMy mother is out of shape and cannot walk for a long distance.
out of sorts
- not feeling well, in a bad moodOur boss is out of sorts today so you should wait until tomorrow to speak to him.
over the worst
- recovering from an illnessThe man is over the worst since his skiing accident last month.
pale around the gills
- to look sickMy colleague was looking a little pale around the gills when he came to work today.
- to dieThe man's father passed away when he was 96 years old.
- to dieMy grandmother passed on when she was 92 years old.
- to faintThree teenage girls passed out at the rock concert.
pick up a cold/influenza
- to acquire an illnessThe boy picked up a cold during the weekend.
picture of health
- a perfect example of healthThe man is feeling very well and is the picture of health.
- to recover from a serious illnessThe car accident was very bad and I do not think that the driver will pull through.
refill a prescription
- to sell a second set of medicine on a doctor's ordersI went to the pharmacy to refill a prescription for my mother.
rub salt in (someone's) wound
- to deliberately make someone's unhappiness or shame or misfortune worseMy supervisor rubbed salt in my wound when he continued to criticize me for my mistake.
run a fever/temperature
- to have a higher than normal body temperatureThe girl has been running a fever this week.
The little boy is running a temperature and should stay in bed all day.
- to be in poor conditionMy father worked very hard last month and now he is run down.
run in the family
- to be a common family characteristicThe serious illness runs in the family of my friend.
run some tests
- to do some medical tests on a patientThe doctor decided to run some tests on the patient.
show signs of an illness
- to show indications or hints of an illnessThe man was beginning to show signs of some kind of illness.
sick in bed
- to remain in bed while you are sickMy father was sick in bed for three days last week.
spit up (something) or spit (something) up
- to throw something up, to vomit somethingThe dog spit up the button that he had swallowed.
- a severe headacheI have been suffering from a splitting headache all morning.
susceptable to (something)
- to easily get some kind of illness, to likely to become sick with somethingThe young boy is very susceptable to getting a sore throat.
take a sick day
- to be absent from work and still receive payI did not feel well yesterday so I decided to take a sick day.
take a turn for the better
- to begin to improve or get wellThe medical condition of my uncle has recently taken a turn for the better.
take a turn for the worse
- to become sickerMy aunt took a turn for the worse last week and she is now in the hospital.
take one's medicine
- to swallow one's medicineThe boy had to take his medicine before he went to bed.
- to become illThe little boy took sick early last night.
take (someone's) pulse
- to measure the beats of a person's pulseThe doctor took the patient's pulse when she arrived at the hospital.
take (someone's) temperature
- to measure someone's body temperatureThe nurse took my temperature when I went to the hospital yesterday.
a taste of one's own medicine
- the same treatment that one gives to others (usually this has a negative meaning)Our boss got a taste of his own medicine when people began to treat him badly like he treats others.
- to vomitThe woman threw up after eating the bad shellfish.
under the weather
- not feeling wellMy boss has been under the weather all week and has not come to work during that time.
up and about
- healthy and moving around, not sick in bedMy uncle has been up and about for a couple of days since he left the hospital.