“Anorexia” is not “anoreksia” in Finnish…!

Like many times before, I came across of the English term “anorexia” as an adverse effect of a drug. I was about to translate it as “anoreksia”, but then I checked in Terminologian tietokannat (the comprehensive Finnish medical dictionaries online).  Yes, indeed, anorexia must be translated as “ruokahaluttomuus” (lack of appetite) into Finnish, and not as “anoreksia”.  I was about to make a mistake here because in Finnish everyday language, “anoreksia” means the disease anorexia nervosa.  For example, I recall having explained to my child that someone we know and who is very thin is suffering from “anoreksia”,  a very serious disease.  And it never came to my mind that I could call this disease “laihuushäiriö” (“thinness disorder”), which seems to be,  according to Terminologian tietokannat, a synonym of anoreksia.  But from now on, I will certainly remember that “anorexia” is not “anoreksia” in the Finnish medical language. Dangerous “faux amis”, these two words!

I think the term”anorexia nervosa” was more commonly used in Finnish some decades ago. By now “nervosa” has been dropped out of the word and the disease has become simply “anoreksia”. It seems that the same confusion is present in English :  an English Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anorexia_nervosa) tells that “Outside of medical literature, the terms anorexia nervosa and anorexia are often used interchangeably; however, anorexia is simply a medical term for lack of appetite, and people with anorexia nervosa do not, in fact, lose their appetites.”

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