Word of the Day: Pathological


If something is caused by a physical or mental disease, it is pathological, like someone whose need to wash the floor every evening is part of a pathological compulsion for cleanliness, or a growth on someone’s elbow that turned out to be a pathological.

Pathological comes from a Greek word, pathologikos, which means “treating of diseases” — pathos means “suffering.” Anyone who studies or works with diseases, from their causes to their symptoms, identifies how the disease affects its victims, in other words, its pathological effects. Remember that this is a medical distinction. If a person has, for example, obsessive-compulsive disorder, his or her repetitive actions are pathological.

1 adj of or relating to the practice of pathology
pathological laboratory”
2 adj caused by or evidencing a mentally disturbed condition
“a pathological liar”
“a pathological urge to succeed”
neurotic, psychoneurotic

affected with emotional disorder

adj caused by or altered by or manifesting disease or pathology

pathological bodily processes”
diseased, morbid, pathologic,
unhealthy: not in or exhibiting good health in body or mind
  • A pathological fear of politics or social context whatsoever.

    The GuardianJun 16, 2014

  • If a patient hasn’t sufficiently cleared her gut before colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist may miss a pathological patch, or a polyp.

    ForbesJun 9, 2014

  • Contemporary techniques of anatomical and pathological depiction can achieve such accuracy and objectivity that any attempt to aestheticise them seems egregious.

    The GuardianJun 2, 2014

  • Real-time brain recordings will trace pathological symptoms down to single neurons.

    The VergeMay 28, 2014


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