See more synonyms for hypochondriac on Thesaurus.com
  1. 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.
  2. Anatomy, Zoology. of or relating to the hypochondrium.
  1. Psychiatry. a person suffering from or subject to hypochondria.
  2. a person who worries or talks excessively about his or her health.

Origin of hypochondriac

1605–15; < New Latin hypochondriacus < Greek hypochondriakós affected in the upper abdomen. See hypochondria, -ac
Related formshy·po·chon·dri·a·cal·ly, adverb

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The upper abdomen, it turns out, was thought to be the seat of melancholy at a time when the now-outdated medical theory of the four humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile [choler], and black bile [melancholy]) was accepted as a basis for legitimate health practice.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.
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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for hypochondriac


Examples from the Web for hypochondriac

Contemporary Examples of hypochondriac

Historical Examples of hypochondriac

  • "And you set me down as a hypochondriac, then," said Upton, smiling.

    The Fortunes Of Glencore

    Charles James Lever

  • He was as awkward, as hypochondriac, as literal, as strict as ever.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • The pill eater is a hypochondriac and very likely his doctor knows it.

    Evening Round Up

    William Crosbie Hunter

  • “You always were a bit of a hypochondriac,” observed his friend.

    The Untouchable

    Stephen A. Kallis

  • Now he is joyous to the point of folly, anon gloomy as a hypochondriac.

British Dictionary definitions for hypochondriac


  1. a person suffering from hypochondria
adjective Also: hypochondriacal (ˌhaɪpəkɒnˈdraɪəkəl)
  1. relating to or suffering from hypochondria
  2. anatomy of or relating to the hypochondrium
Derived Formshypochondriacally, 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

Word Origin and History for hypochondriac

1590s, "pertaining to the hypochondria," also "afflicted with melancholy," from French hypocondriaque (16c.), from Medieval Latin hypochondriacus, from Greek hypokhondriakos "pertaining to the upper abdomen," from hypokhondria (see hypochondria). The noun is from 1630s, "melancholy person;" in the modern sense from 1888.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hypochondriac in Medicine


  1. A person afflicted with hypochondria.
  1. Relating to or afflicted with hypochondria.
  2. Relating to or located in the left or right hypochondrium.
Related formshy′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.

hypochondriac in Culture



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.