Ask McFartnuggets: “Shouldn’t Hypochondria Be Called Hyperchondria?”

Dear McFartnuggets: 
My crazy ass girlfriend is always telling me she has cancer or a brain tumor and the doctors tell her she’s a hypochondriac. That’s the one thing she doesn’t think she has. Why is the word “hypochondriac” though? Shouldn’t it be “hyperchondriac”? This bitch is always hyper as hell about her symptoms. Wouldn’t that be a better word? Hypo is for words like hypodermia when people are too cold and their bodies slowly shut down. Isn’t that the opposite of what the actual condition is? -- Wanda from San Antonio, Texas

Dear Wanda:
Well, hypo and hyper are distinct prefixes and mean different things. The prefix hyper- comes from Greek when it meant “over” like exaggeration as in the word “hyperbole.” Funnily enough, the prefix hypo- came from Greek to mean “under” like beneath the skin such as a hypodermic needle. The term “hypochondria” actually comes from the Greek word hypokhondrios, meaning "of the soft parts between the ribs and navel” where the ancient Greeks believed feelings of dread and morbidity came from. The word uses hypo- to describe how those feelings came from inside of your body, but as we know now that’s actually scientifically wrong. Technically if we could revise words, it probably would be more realistic and accurate to call hypochondria “Hyperchondria,” but since these are already established terms I doubt that will ever happen. So the next time someone says “I’m a hyperchrondriac” you don’t even need to correct them. Odds are they’ve already diagnosed themselves 100% correctly.

"I think I might have hypochondria... Either that or a brain tumor."

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