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COPD Glossary

Terms used to explain COPD 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.


Pronunciation: \ˈal-ər-jən\
Function: noun
1: a substance that induces allergy <inhaled allergens> <a suspected food allergen>


Pronunciation: \-ˈprōt-ē-ˌās, -ˌāz\
Function: noun
1: a substance that inhibits the enzymatic activity of a protease


Pronunciation: \ˈaz-mə\
Function: noun
1: a chronic lung disorder that is marked by recurring episodes of airway obstruction (as from bronchospasm) manifested by labored breathing accompanied esp. by wheezing and coughing and by a sense of constriction in the chest, and that is triggered by hyperreactivity to various stimuli (as allergens or rapid change in air temperature)

Learn more: Managing Asthma

Pronunciation: \brän-ˈkīt-əs, bräŋ-\
Function: noun
1: acute or chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes; also: a disease marked by this


Pronunciation: \-dī-ˈlāt-ər, -ˈdī-ˌlāt-\
Function: adjective
1: relating to or causing expansion of the bronchial air passages <bronchodilator[1] activity> <bronchodilator[1] drugs>

Learn more: Breathe Easier

Function: abbreviation
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Cor Pulmonale

cor pul*mo*na*le
Pronunciation: \ˌkor-ˌpul-mə-ˈnäl-ē, -ˌpəl-, -ˈnal-\
Function: noun
1: disease of the heart characterized by hypertrophy and dilatation of the right ventricle and secondary to disease of the lungs or their blood vessels

Cystic Fibrosis

Function: noun
1: a hereditary disease prevalent esp. in Caucasian populations that appears usu. in early childhood, is inherited as an autosomal recessive monogenic trait, involves functional disorder of the exocrine glands, and is marked esp. by faulty digestion due to a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, by difficulty in breathing due to mucus accumulation in airways, and by excessive loss of salt in the sweat —called also fibrocystic disease of the pancreas, mucoviscidosi


Pronunciation: \ˌdē-kən-ˈjes-tənt\
Function: noun
1: an agent that relieves congestion (as of mucous membranes)


Pronunciation: \ˈdī-ə-ˌfram\
Function: noun
1: a body partition of muscle and connective tissue; specif: the partition separating the chest and abdominal cavities in mammals see pelvic diaphragm urogenital diaphragm
2: a device that limits the aperture of a lens or optical system
3: a molded cap usu. of thin rubber fitted over the uterine cervix to act as a mechanical contraceptive barrier


Pronunciation: \i-ˈlas-tən\
Function: noun
1: a protein that is similar to collagen and is the chief constituent of elastic fibers


Pronunciation: \ˌem(p)-fə-ˈzē-mə, -ˈsē-\
Function: noun
1: a condition characterized by air-filled expansions in interstitial or subcutaneous tissues; specif: a condition of the lung that is marked by distension and eventual rupture of the alveoli with progressive loss of pulmonary elasticity, that is accompanied by shortness of breath with or without cough, and that may lead to impairment of heart action


Pronunciation: \hyü-ˈmid-ə-ˌfī(-ə)r, yü-\
Function: noun
1: a device for supplying or maintaining humidity


Pronunciation: \ˌhī-pə-rin-ˈflā-shən\
Function: noun
1: excessive inflation (as of the lungs)


Pronunciation: \ˌin-flə-ˈmā-shən\
Function: noun
1: a local response to cellular injury that is marked by capillary dilatation, leukocytic infiltration, redness, heat, pain, swelling, and often loss of function and that serves as a mechanism initiating the elimination of noxious agents and of damaged tissue


Pronunciation: \in-ˈhā-lər\
Function: noun
1: a device by means of which usu. medicinal material is inhaled compare inhalator

Learn more: Using Inhalers

Pronunciation: \ˈäk-si-jən\
Function: noun
1: a colorless tasteless odorless gaseous element that constitutes 21 percent of the atmosphere and is found in water, in most rocks and minerals, and in numerous organic compounds, that is capable of combining with all elements except the inert gases, that is active in physiological processes, and that is involved esp. in combustion processes 

Learn more: Safe Oxygen Tips

Pronunciation: \n(y)u-ˈmō-nyə\
Function: noun
1: a disease of the lungs that is characterized esp. by inflammation and consolidation of lung tissue followed by resolution, is accompanied by fever, chills, cough, and difficulty in breathing, and is caused chiefly by infection see bronchopneumonia lobar pneumonia primary atypical pneumonia


Pronunciation: \ˌres-pə-ˈrā-shən\
Function: noun
1 a: the movement of respiratory gases (as oxygen and carbon dioxide) into and out of the lungs
b: a single complete act of breathing <30 respirations per minute>
2: the physical and chemical processes (as breathing and diffusion) by which an organism supplies its cells and tissues with the oxygen needed for metabolism and relieves them of the carbon dioxide formed in energy-producing reactions
3: see: cellular respiration

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© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

Reference: Lungs, Breathing and Respiration section on Better Medicine

Did You Know?

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive disease that makes it difficult to breathe.