IATE Term of the Week: Diagnostics


A popular quote highlighting the importance of being able to stop something bad from happening is the one referring to the power of acting in advance aiming at ensuring procurement measures. As a result, it is widely acknowledged and agreed that “prevention is better than cure”. The quote is attributed to the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus in around 1500.

‘Diagnostics’ which is our present IATE term of the week is the term used in medicine, which represents this philosophy of prevention. ‘Diagnostics’ is defined as either ‘a distinctive symptom or characteristic’ or ‘the practice or technique of diagnosis’. 

Click on the image above to access the IATE entry.

Etymologically speaking the word comes from the noun ‘diagnosis’ which is defined as ‘the recognition of a disease from its symptoms’. Diagnosis is the noun resulting from the Latin application of the Ancient Greek verb type of diagignōskein “discern, distinguish,” literally “to know thoroughly” or “know apart (from another),” from dia “between” (see dia-) + gignōskein “to learn, to come to know,” originating from the PIE root *gno- “to know.”

Diagnostics therefore is the means through which it is possible to identify any microorganism causing an infectious disease and to perform susceptibility testing in order to apply the most appropriate treatment.  According to recent research findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, ‘infectious diseases pose a greater challenge today than they did even two decades ago.’

Diagnostics is in an ongoing advancement and development. Not only do diagnostics manage to eliminate the number of non-treatable infectious diseases, but they keep matching the evolution and emergences of new infectious diseases. The only prerequisite for the effective results of diagnostics is the participation of people in their expected annual medical tests.


Diagnosis, [ONLINE], Available https://www.etymonline.com/word/diagnosis Accessed 15 October 2020

Erasmus, Desiderius, Quotes, [ONLINE], Available  https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Desiderius_Erasmus Accessed 15 October 2020

Life Changing Organisation, MedTech Facts, “The Importance of Diagnostic Tests in Fighting Infectious Diseases”, [ONLINE], Available https://www.lifechanginginnovation.org/medtech-facts/importance-diagnostic-tests-fighting-infectious-diseases, Accessed 15 October 2020

Prevention, Prevention is Better than Cure, [ONLINE] Available, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/fr/dictionnaire/anglais/prevention-is-better-than-cure Accessed 15 October 2020

Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/europe/04/money/html/introduction.stm Accessed 07 October 2020

Maria Papamargariti pictureWritten by Maria Papamargariti, Greek and English Philologist, writer in the field of children’s literature.