Definitions provided by:
Food, Nutrition and Diet Glossary

Terms used to explain Food, Nutrition and Diet can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.

Filter by Topic:


Pronunciation: \ab-ˈdäm-ən-əl\

Function: adjective

1: of, belonging to, or affecting the abdomen <abdominal[1] organs> <abdominal[1] pain> <abdominal[1] surgery>
2: performed by entry through the abdominal wall <an abdominal[1] hysterectomy>

Anorexia Nervosa

anorexia ner*vo*sa
Pronunciation: \-(ˌ)nər-ˈvō-sə, -zə\

Function: noun
: a serious eating disorder primarily of young women in their teens and early twenties that is characterized esp. by a pathological fear of weight gain leading to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, and usu. excessive weight loss


Function: abbreviation

1 Bachelor of Medicine
2 basal metabolism
3 bowel movement


Function: abbreviation
body mass index


Pronunciation: \ˈbī-ˌseps\

Function: noun
pl biceps
also bi*ceps*es
: a muscle having two heads: as
a: the large flexor muscle of the front of the upper arm
b: the large flexor muscle of the back of the upper leg

Binge Eating

binge eating
Function: noun
: uncontrolled compulsive eating esp. as a symptom of bulimia or binge eating disorder

Bulimia Nervosa

bulimia ner*vo*sa
Pronunciation: \-(ˌ)nər-ˈvō-sə, -zə\

Function: noun
: see: bulimia 2


Pronunciation: \ˌkärd-ē-ō-ˈres-p(ə-)rə-ˌtōr-ē, -ri-ˈspī-rə-, -ˌtor-\

Function: adjective
: of or relating to the heart and the respiratory system : see: cardiopulmonary<cardiorespiratory ailments> <cardiorespiratory responses>


Pronunciation: \-ˈvas-kyə-lər\

Function: adjective

1: of, relating to, or involving the heart and blood vessels <cardiovascular[1] disease>
2: used, designed, or performed to cause a temporary increase in heart rate (as to improve heart function and reduce the risk of heart disease) <a cardiovascular[1] workout> <treadmills, stationary bicycles, and other cardiovascular[1] equipment>


Pronunciation: \ˌkän(t)-stə-ˈpā-shən\

Function: noun
: abnormally delayed or infrequent passage of dry hardened feces


Pronunciation: \krē-ˈat-ən-ˌēn, -ən-ən\

Function: noun
: a white crystalline strongly basic compound C4H7N3O formed from creatine and found esp. in muscle, blood, and urine


Pronunciation: \ˌdē-hī-ˈdrā-shən\

Function: noun
: the process of dehydrating; esp: an abnormal depletion of body fluids

Digestive System

digestive system
Function: noun
: the bodily system concerned with the ingestion, digestion, and absorption of food : see: alimentary system

Dissociative Identity Disorder

dissociative identity disorder
Function: noun
: see: multiple personality disorder


Pronunciation: \i-ˈlek-trə-ˌlīt\

Function: noun

1: a nonmetallic electric conductor in which current is carried by the movement of ions
2 a: a substance (as an acid, base, or salt) that when dissolved in a suitable solvent (as water) or when fused becomes an ionic conductor
b: any of the ions (as of sodium, potassium, calcium, or bicarbonate) that in a biological fluid regulate or affect most metabolic processes (as the flow of nutrients into and waste products out of cells) used esp. in biology and biochemistry


Pronunciation: \en-ˈdor-fən\

Function: noun
: any of a group of endogenous peptides (as enkephalin and dynorphin) found esp. in the brain that bind chiefly to opiate receptors and produce some of the same pharmacological effects (as pain relief) as those of opiates; specif: see: beta-endorphin


Function: verb
transitive verb
1: to use repeatedly in order to strengthen or develop (as a muscle)
2: to put through exercisesintransitive verb: to take exercise

Gluteus Maximus

gluteus max*i*mus
Pronunciation: \-ˈmak-sə-məs\

Function: noun
pl glutei max*i*mi
Pronunciation: \-sə-ˌmī\
: the outermost of the three muscles in each buttock that arises from the sacrum, coccyx, back part of the ilium and adjacent structures, that is inserted into the fascia lata of the thigh and the gluteal tuberosity of the femur, and that acts to extend and laterally rotate the thigh


Function: noun
: a deficiency of potassium in the blood —called also hypopotassemia

Lactic Acid

lactic acid
Function: noun
: a hygroscopic organic acid C3H6O3 that is known in three optically isomeric forms:
orL–lactic acidPronunciation: \ˈel-\

: the dextrorotatory form present normally in blood and muscle tissue as a product of the anaerobic metabolism of glucose and glycogen
orD–lactic acidPronunciation: \ˈdē-\
: the levorotatory form obtained by biological fermentation of sucrose
orDL–lactic acidPronunciation: \ˈdē-ˈel-\
: the racemic form present in food products and made usu. by bacterial fermentation (as of whey or raw sugar) but also synthetically, and used chiefly in foods and beverages, in medicine, in tanning and dyeing, and in making esters for use as solvents and plasticizers


Pronunciation: \mə-ˈraz-məs\

Function: noun
: severe malnutrition affecting infants and children esp. of impoverished regions that is characterized by poor growth, loss of subcutaneous fat, muscle atrophy, apathy, and pronounced weight loss and is usu. caused by a diet deficient in calories and proteins but sometimes by disease (as dysentery or giardiasis)


Pronunciation: \mə-ˈtab-ə-ˌliz-əm\

Function: noun

1 a: the sum of the processes in the buildup and destruction of protoplasm; specif: the chemical changes in living cells by which energy is provided for vital processes and activities and new material is assimilated <methods of determining body and tissue metabolismBull. of the Univ. of Ky.> see anabolism catabolism
b: the sum of the processes by which a particular substance is handled (as by assimilation and incorporation or by detoxification and excretion) in the living body <the metabolism of iodine in the thyroid>
2: see: metamorphosis 2usu. used in combination<holometabolism>

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

obsessive–compulsive disorder
Function: noun
: a psychoneurotic disorder in which the patient is beset with obsessions or compulsions or both and suffers extreme anxiety or depression through failure to think the obsessive thoughts or perform the compelling acts abbr. OCD—called also obsessive-compulsive neurosis, obsessive-compulsive reaction



Function: noun
pl -ro*ses

: a condition that affects esp. older women and is characterized by decrease in bone mass with decreased density and enlargement of bone spaces producing porosity and brittleness


Pronunciation: \ˈpek-t(ə-)rəl\

Function: noun

1: a pectoral part or organ; esp: see: pectoralis
2: a medicinal substance for treating diseases of the respiratory tract

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Function: noun
: severe premenstrual syndrome marked esp. by depression, anxiety, cyclical mood shifts, and lethargy abbr. PMDD


Pronunciation: \ˈprō-ˌnāt\

Function: verb
transitive verb: to subject (as the hand or forearm) to pronationintransitive verb: to assume a position of pronation


Pronunciation: \ˈkwäd-rə-ˌseps\

Function: noun
: a large extensor muscle of the front of the thigh divided above into four parts which include the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis, and which unite in a single tendon to enclose the patella as a sesamoid bone at the knee and insert as the patellar ligament into the tuberosity of the tibia —called also quadriceps femoris, quadriceps muscle


Pronunciation: \ˈstrech\

Function: transitive verb

1: to extend in length <was told to stretch[1] the leg muscles before running>
2: to enlarge or distend esp. by forceintransitive verb
1: to become extended in length or breadth
2: to extend one's body or limbs


Pronunciation: \ˈsü-ə-ˌsīd\

Function: noun

1: the act or an instance of taking one's own life voluntarily and intentionally
2: a person who commits or attempts suicide


Pronunciation: \ˈtrī-ˌseps\

Function: noun
pl triceps
also tri*ceps*es
: a muscle that arises from three heads:
a: the large extensor muscle that is situated along the back of the upper arm, arises by the long head from the infraglenoid tubercle of the scapula and by two heads from the shaft of the humerus, is inserted into the olecranon at the elbow, and extends the forearm at the elbow joint —called also triceps brachii
b: the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles viewed as constituting together one muscle —called also triceps surae

Audio pronunciation for hear it again
Having trouble hearing a pronunciation?
Click here to listen with your default audio player.
© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.