hypochondriac

[ hahy-puh-kon-dree-ak ]
/ ˌhaɪ pəˈkɒn driˌæk /

adjective

Also hy·po·chon·dri·a·cal [hahy-poh-kuh n-drahy-uh-kuh l] /ˌhaɪ poʊ kənˈdraɪ ə kəl/. Psychiatry.
  1. pertaining to or suffering from hypochondria, an excessive preoccupation with and worry about one's health: The comedy is aimed at the hypochondriac demographic.
  2. produced by hypochondria: Hypochondriac feelings overwhelmed her.
Anatomy, Zoology. of or relating to the hypochondrium.

noun

Psychiatry. a person suffering from or subject to hypochondria.
a person who worries or talks excessively about his or her health.

RELATED WORDS

Origin of hypochondriac

1605–15; < New Latin hypochondriacus < Greek hypochondriakós affected in the upper abdomen. See hypochondria, -ac

Related forms

hy·po·chon·dri·a·cal·ly, adverb

Related Quotations

  • "The uncomfortable feelings of the hypochondriac are excessively magnified by his fears and the concentration of his thoughts and attention to his disease."
    -Dr. Prichard edited by Sir John Forbes, Alexander Tweedie, John Conolly Hypochondriasis The Cyclopaedia of Practical Medicine: Comprising Treatises On the Nature and Treatment of Diseases, Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Medical Jurisprudence, Etc., Etc., Volume 2 (1833)
  • "Aziz’s mother, a notorious hypochondriac, complained at length about her latest bout of indigestion."
    -Laila Lalami Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (2005)

Word story

Hypochondriac comes ultimately from the Greek word hypokhondria, which literally means “under the cartilage (of the breastbone).” In the late 16th century, when hypochondriac first entered the English language, it referred to the upper abdomen.
The upper abdomen, it turns out, was thought to be the seat of melancholy at a time when the now-outdated medical theory of the four humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile [choler], and black bile [melancholy]) was accepted as a basis for legitimate health practice. In the 17th century, hypochondriac referred to people who suffered from “depression and melancholy without cause,” though we might suppose from the name of this malady that many depressed patients complained of abdominal pains, which otherwise went undiagnosed. “Vapors,” another archaic disorder connected to the upper abdomen, was used as a euphemism for PMS in a time when such things were not discussed in polite conversation. Because doctors were male at this time, “women’s problems” were largely written off as fits of hysteria (another obsolete medical term of Greek origin, from the word for womb ).
It wasn’t until the 19th century that hypochondriac described someone who suffered “illness without a specific cause.” This sense is still widely used, though today we diagnose modern hypochondriacs by their overuse of the website WebMD.

Popular references


The Hypochondriac: Molière’s last play, first performed in 1673. During the play’s fourth performance, Molière passed out on stage and died a few days later.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hypochondriac

British Dictionary definitions for hypochondriac

hypochondriac

/ (ˌhaɪpəˈkɒndrɪˌæk) /

noun

a person suffering from hypochondria

adjective Also: hypochondriacal (ˌhaɪpəkɒnˈdraɪəkəl)

relating to or suffering from hypochondria
anatomy of or relating to the hypochondrium

Derived Forms

hypochondriacally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medicine definitions for hypochondriac

hypochondriac

[ hī′pə-kŏndrē-ăk′ ]

n.

A person afflicted with hypochondria.

adj.

Relating to or afflicted with hypochondria.
Relating to or located in the left or right hypochondrium.

Related forms

hy′po•chon•dria•cal (-kŏn-drīə-kəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Culture definitions for hypochondriac

hypochondriac

[ (heye-puh-kon-dree-ak) ]

A person who constantly believes he or she is ill or about to become ill.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.