The 5 Most Commonly Misused Words in Medical Writing (According to an Editor)


  • Crystal R. Herron, PhD, ELS Redwood Ink, LLC, San Rafael, CA



“A word after a word after a word is power.” – Margaret Atwood

Words are powerful. They may deceptively look like simple little strings of letters, but they hold the tremendous power of influence. The words we choose—and where we place them—influence thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Clear words support clear thinking. And clear writing and clear thinking go hand in hand.

Yet, some writers will throw words on the page, hoping that readers will “get the idea.” But when you use words that are ambiguous, inaccurate, or imprecise, you encourage ambiguous, inaccurate, and imprecise thinking. This carelessness can cause death by a thousand cuts—each word misuse can chip away at the clarity and credibility of the work.

This chipping away can involve any one of the hundreds of thousands of words in the English language. But as a professional editor, I have noticed 5 words that are most commonly misused in medical writing: utilize, increase, level, while, and comprise.




How to Cite

Herron C. The 5 Most Commonly Misused Words in Medical Writing (According to an Editor). AMWA. 2022;37(4). doi:10.55752/amwa.2022.194



Conscious Writing