What is a Diagnosis?

Lots of people want to know the definition of “diagnosis.”


Merriam-Webster.com puts “diagnosis” in the Top 10% of searches.

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dia” in Greek means “apart.”


gignōskein” is “to recognize” or “to know”

“gnō” is “to come to know,” as in spiritually;

= diagignōskein  – ‘distinguish, discern’



Originating in modern Latin around 1675-85, this late 17th-century Latin word has gained in popularity. Here is the trend from the 1800’s to 2010, of increased use of ‘diagnosis,’ according to Google searches:

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There are many reasons why more people are looking up this word in the dictionary. The most compelling reason may be that patients know that there is something wrong with their body (or that of a loved one), but have trouble finding out what it is. So they go on the internet to search for answers. And being studious, a great starting place is the very word itself.

6 Definitions of Diagnosis:

  1. Dictionary.com: the process of determining by examination the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition. The decision reached from such an examination.
  2. Stedman’s Medical Dictionary: the act or process of identifying or determining the nature and cause of a disease or injury through evaluation of patient history, examination, and the review of laboratory data. The opinion derived from such an evaluation.
  3. The American Heritage Science Dictionary: The identification by a medical provider of a condition, disease, or injury made by evaluating the symptoms and signs presented by a patient.
  4. BusinessDictionary.com: Identification of a condition, disease, disorder, or problem by systematic analysis of the background or history, examination of the signs or symptoms, evaluation of the research or test results, and investigation of the assumed or probable causes. Effective prognosis is not possible without effective diagnosis.
  5. Cambridge dictionary: a judgment about what a particular illness or problem is, made after examining it.
  6. Medicinenet.com: The nature of a disease; the identification of an illness. 2 A conclusion or decision reached by diagnosis. 3 The identification of any problem.


Your diagnosis is high blood pressure.”

He diagnosed her with HIV after a blood test came back positive.”

They gave her the wrong diagnosis.”

  The diagnosis of appendicitis is 80%, making a negative surgery rate of 20% who had the operation but did not need it.

~ ~ ~

If you know that there is something wrong with your body, listen to your instincts. No one knows your body better than you. Keep going back to the doctor for medical problems. If you can’t get a diagnosis, it may be time for more tests, studies, or a referral to a specialist who can see you with a new pair of refreshed eyes.

Sometimes, you may have to fight for your diagnosis. Go ahead.


Fight for your diagnosis. And fight for the right diagnosis, because 1 in 10 diagnoses may be a medical error.

Medical error is the #3 cause of death in the US.



Dr. Margaret Aranda

Personal Profile

Curriculum Vitae

For more information, see

Dr. Margaret Aranda’s The Rebel Patient book

Additional Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda

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Organic Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Organic Paleo Muffins

Organic Carrot Cake

Diabetes & Obesity

How are you Aging?

10 Complications of Diabetes

10 Health Benefits of the Low-Glycemic Diet

Chronic Metabolic Syndrome is Killing US

What does ‘Iatrogenic’ Mean?

What is a Diagnosis?

7 Ways that Chronic Pain Changes the Brain

What Matters to You: Patient Advocacy

From Dr. Forrest Tennant: Hyperalgesia: No Reason to Stop or Reduce Opioids

~ ~ ~

Read Dr Margaret Aranda’s Memoirs:

Age 1: A Baby in the Sky for Father’s Day

Age 2: The Making of a Woman Intensivist

Age 3: In the Blink of a Car

Age 4: Respond, Don’t React

Age 5: A Baby on the Edge

Age 6: Glistening in the Moonlight

Age 7: The Pigeon Boy, The Suction Bush and The Darkness

Age 8: Selling Cupcakes

Age 9: Sitting on the Edge of a Cave

Age 10: Mr Bubble Strikes Again

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8 thoughts on “What is a Diagnosis?

Add yours

  1. Maureen’s diagnosis has moved from MCI to moderate to severe dementia. Memory tests have been formative in the professional judgements about her condition. IMHO it is all calculated guesswork and I’m always puzzled that her functional decline never features in their judgement!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So sweet that you know her so well and area advocating for your wife. Hat’s off to you as it will hopefully now be emotionally easier for you in severe stages. She’ll be in less of an “in-between” world; at least I found it this way with my father. The neuropsychiatric evaluation, formal over hours, is the most sensitive test especially in the early stages… but we find that it is not commonly ordered. “Judgement” is quite the misnomer in the case of dementia, which can only be finely detected with the psyche eval. Having been through it myself, it is quite an exhausting test but one that picks out intricate patterns and fine shades of distinction – best in early stages of dementia. Don’t for get to take care of yourself, too, kind sir.


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