noun, plural di·ag·no·ses [dahy-uhg-noh-seez]. /ˌdaɪ əgˈnoʊ siz/.
- the process of determining by examination the nature and circumstances of a diseased condition.
- the decision reached from such an examination. Abbreviation: Dx
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Origin of diagnosis
words often confused with diagnosis
When a person is unwell and asks a doctor what is wrong with them, what they are asking for is a diagnosis. Examining the symptoms, as with a thermometer or stethoscope, and evaluating the results of a procedure such as a throat culture, blood test, or x-ray will help the doctor identify the patient’s illness. Whatever that ailment may be, the identification, or naming of it, is the diagnosis. The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis was very disheartening. The diagnosis is an acute case of tendinitis.
Once a patient has been given a diagnosis, the next thing they’ll want to know is what sort of an outcome they can expect, which means they want to know the prognosis. Unlike diagnoses, which are conclusively based on tangible evidence, prognoses are reasonable predictions based on past observations of similar cases. A prognosis gives the patient an idea of what to expect about the course of their illness, including the probability of recovery. As ailments range from the most superficial to the most life-threatening, it is typical for the word prognosis to be qualified by such adjectives as excellent, favorable, good, positive, negative, poor, dire, grim. Doctors will never tire of telling us, “Early detection and treatment are your best bets for a positive prognosis.” And no one wants to say, “The prognosis was so poor that he could no longer hide his condition from his family.”
In nonmedical contexts, diagnosis still carries its meaning of naming or identifying something, especially when that involves a situation or problem. When our computer kept crashing, the tech said that nearby UFO activity could be the reason, so we got another tech—and a proper, earthbound diagnosis!
Likewise, prognosis is used outside of medical contexts, retaining its meaning of reasonable prediction. As a lover of pesticide-free smoothies, I’m pleased to say that the prognosis for the future of organic farming has never been better.
OTHER WORDS FROM diagnosispre·di·ag·no·sis, noun, plural pre·di·ag·no·ses.
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH diagnosisdiagnosis , prognosis (see confusables note at the current entry)
Words nearby diagnosis
How to use diagnosis in a sentence
A lengthy series of objective tests may lead to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.How Pseudoscientists Get Away With It - Facts So Romantic|Stuart Firestein|August 28, 2020|Nautilus
Even when diagnoses of mental illness are made, laws around the world are supposed to prevent discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere.Machines can spot mental health issues—if you hand over your personal data|Bobbie Johnson|August 13, 2020|MIT Technology Review
Such research may inform diagnosis and treatment of human infertility, Pacey says.Human sperm don’t swim the way that anyone had thought|Jack J. Lee|July 31, 2020|Science News
An especially astute doctor might be able to see a patient’s symptoms and try to make a clairvoyant diagnosis.
The software doesn’t have to account for every possible diagnosis, like infectious diseases from the tropics.What will astronauts need to survive the dangerous journey to Mars?|Maria Temming|July 15, 2020|Science News
Diagnosis of CTE is often considered to be specialized and has to occur at a designated institution like Boston University.Will the NCAA Let Ohio State’s Kosta Karageorge Die in Vain?|Robert Silverman|December 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The official diagnosis: a mono-like virus that makes you really, really tired.Jeopardy! Champion Julia Collins’s Brain Feels Like Mush|Sujay Kumar|November 20, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Those of us who are committed to this issue see it the same light you might if you got a fatal cancer diagnosis for your child.
I recall being taught during my medical education that a likely diagnosis was neurofibromatosis type 1.
Accompanying this diagnosis was a description of what her particular death would be like.On Her Own Terms: Why Brittany Maynard Has Chosen to Die|Gene Robinson|October 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
In the early stages of chronic nephritis, when diagnosis is difficult, it is usually normal.
In pernicious anemia they are always greatly diminished, and an increase should exclude the diagnosis of this disease.
Directions for preparing it are given in most of the newer large text-books upon clinical diagnosis.
A marked lymphocyte leukocytosis occurs in pertussis, and is of value in diagnosis.
When applied to the diagnosis of typhoid fever, the phenomenon is known as the Widal reaction.
British Dictionary definitions for diagnosis
noun plural -ses (-siːz)
- the identification of diseases by the examination of symptoms and signs and by other investigations
- an opinion or conclusion so reached
- thorough analysis of facts or problems in order to gain understanding and aid future planning
- an opinion or conclusion reached through such analysis