Is there a single word in English to describe someone who is too worried about their health and even thinks they are sick, thus, taking frequent clinical tests or taking too much predictive medication,etc.


3 Answers 3


The word is hypochondriac and they suffer from hypochondria.

A person who is abnormally anxious about their health.


ODO also gives the explanation of using hypo- ("under") rather than hyper- ("over") which one might expect if someone is overly anxious about something:

late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek hupokhondria, denoting the soft body area below the ribs, from hupo 'under' + khondros 'sternal cartilage'. Melancholy was originally thought to arise from the liver, gall bladder, spleen, etc..

  • 3
    There is also "Münchausen syndrome", where the individual actually fakes illness, sometimes to the extent of poisoning or injuring themselves to produce the appropriate symptoms. And then there's "Münchausen syndrome by proxy", where a person does things to make another person ill (usually a parent to a child) out of some need for attention or sympathy.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 15:28
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    And "malingering" is a term applied (especially in the military) to feigning illness to avoid school, work, etc, or for other fraudulent purposes.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 15:30
  • Wikipedia article on hypochondirasis.
    – ntoskrnl
    Commented Dec 25, 2014 at 19:03

Hypochondriac would seem to fit the bill.

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    +1, The original Greek hypochondriakos referred to the region of the abdomen, an area that ancient doctors believed to be the seat of misery or melancholia
    – Misti
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 14:08
  • @MystiSinha the word is hypochondrios and the region of the abdomen you're referring to would be either one of the right or left upper quadrant (RUQ/LUQ). The RUQ - called dexiòn hypochòndrion - is where the liver, gallbladder and bile duct are located. The LUQ - called aristeròn hypochòndrion - hosts the stomach and pancreas. Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 22:24
  • Note also that melancholia really means "black bile" - further confirming the close relationship that the Greeks believed existed between liver, gall bladder, and sense of well being.
    – Floris
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 0:48

You call them a hypochondriac. A similar term is valetudinarian:

A person who is unduly anxious about their health.

It usually refers to people who really are frail but fuss about it so obsessively that they avoid actually getting sick. The Free Dictionary puts it better:

A sickly or weak person, especially one who is constantly and morbidly concerned with his or her health.

If you wanted to give a hypochondriac the benefit of the doubt, or just humour them, this would be a less pejorative word. See World Wide Words for a good description with examples. In Jane Austen's novel Emma, the heroine's father Mr Woodhouse is a classic valetudinarian.

The word is from Latin valetudinarius = in ill health.

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