German Medical Translation

Online dictionaries and glossaries for your German medical translations

German medical translation

When it comes to medical translation, the international language of medicine is English.

And in view of that fact, I’m surprised at how hard it is to find a good German English medical dictionary or glossary on the web.

But I’ll keep looking, so do come back for new links which I’ll add as I find them.

Translating German medical texts into English is clearly also another very specialized area of translation, and where you trust that your German translator has a solid medical or scientific background – especially when translating dosages, and advice on taking medicine!

Another very good reason for a translator to have professional indemnity insurance....!

Online medical terminology

German medical abbreviations

  • Becker's dictionary of German medical abbreviations (Medizinische Abbürzungslexikon), accepts both English and German abbreviations. I can't praise this little medical glossary enough - I'm amazed how often I need it. So many English abbreviations are adopted into German and so it's great to have this reference work at hand.
  • Wikipedia  is a good starting point for German medical abbreviations. Once you've found the German medical term, just plug it into a standard dictionary for the English translation.
  • Med Serv is another one, with around 2,700 German medical abbreviations, if you haven't been lucky elsewhere.

Disclosure: If you buy from a link below I get a small commission. There is no extra charge to you. 

Karen Schafheutle is a German medical translation services provider in my interview series. She thoroughly recommends anyone serious about medical translation to consider investing in Medical Translation Step by Step, Learning by Drafting.

"I've not found another book that manages to explain the basics as well as this one."

German medical translation resources

  • German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) Medical knowledge online, here the English version. Associated with the German Federal Ministry of Health and a good source of background information on medicine in Germany.  An invaluable resource for WHO disease classifications and terminology for the serious medical translator. Detailed vocabulary unfortunately only available for subscription (expensive).
  • Dental lexicon published by the Zahn Forum, with explanations of terms (in German) plus English equivalents as well as links to further information. Rather good.

TIP! No luck with the glossaries and dictionaries above? Don’t forget my favorite online dictionary, LEO & its forum term discussions, or the glossaries provided on online translator community websites.

Now, if you get serious about medical translation then at some stage there'll be no getting round the need for a serious, well-respected physical/paper dictionary. You'll always need to be able to refer to an authorized source.

They can be horribly expensive (look for a used copy!) but are a deductible business expense. I've identified some good German dictionary options for you here.

Can you recommend a good medical translation resource?

 If you know of any good German medical glossaries that you've found useful and would like to recommend, then we'd love to hear from you!

Please use the form below (I will NOT pass your details on to anyone!) to submit your suggested source, and we'll add it to the list.

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

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Many thanks for helping to make this a valuable resource for visitors.

So that just leaves me to wish you Hals- und Beinbruch!  (Break a leg!/Good luck!)


German Translation Tips & Resources

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Joanna Scudamore-Trezek

I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively.  How can I help you today?

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