These words relates to Health category. I think these words are really confusing and I don't know how to use them correctly. Can you show me what are the differences between these words?

  • Are you referring to them all as verbs?
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 11:34
  • @fixer1234 Yes, they're all verbs
    – Tony Shreven
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 11:54
  • I'll note that "heal" and, to a lesser extent, "cure" have acquired mildly negative connotations, as they are terms often employed by various charlatans purporting to treat illnesses "spiritually" or with some sort of unscientific concoction. (They still have legitimate uses in "real" medicine, however.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


These terms are used with more precision by healthcare professionals than by the general public. The dictionary definitions reflect general usage of the terms.

Remedy as a noun is often applied to health, but the verb isn't commonly used in that context. It means to relieve a problem, which is very imprecise if you apply it to health matters.

Heal and cure are related:

Heal: to make free from injury or disease; to make sound or whole; to restore to health

Cure: to restore to health, soundness, or normality; to bring about recovery from a disease

Heal and cure refer to the patient, although "cure" is often used in the broad sense of eradicating a class of illness from the population at large, like "curing cancer". But if a person has an illness, you cure the patient, not the illness.

Also note that heal and cure refer to accomplishing the result rather than the nature of the process. The "curing" or "healing" done by the doctor might be little more than keeping you comfortable while your own body does the work, but they are said to have cured or healed you because they provided the conditions to bring about recovery.

The difference between the terms focuses on the nature of the problem. Health problems that are not based on a deficiency of something the body needs (and can be fixed by providing that), are broadly categorized as injury or disease. Injury is physical damage. Disease is a condition that impairs normal functioning. This isn't medical school, so I won't get into the weeds with rigorous definitions.

"Cure" refers to disease (you don't cure injury). In common usage, "heal" is applied to disease or injury, but it more accurately applies to injury or the physical manifestations of a disease.

Treat means to care for or deal with medically or surgically, or give medical care or attention to; try to heal or cure..

It refers to the application of treatments, not the results. Again, you treat the patient, not the problem. In common usage, people say things like "treat a cold" or "treat a broken arm", but that's shorthand for treating a patient for a cold or for a broken arm. There is no guarantee that treatment will result in healing or cure.

  • There is no known cure for the common cold. Is the human "cold" a disease or simply a malady? Do you heal someone's cold? Or do you treat it?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 12:33
  • @Lawrence I'm just playing devil's advocate, pushing for a more comprehensive answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 13:02
  • @Mari-LouA, tried to make it more comprehensive and to address the kinds of issues you raised. When I was done, I found the question closed. If I had discovered the comments a little later...
    – fixer1234
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 17:48
  • It's a very good answer, I'm sure it will help future visitors. You'll be surprised how many people upvote answers that are older than three months. I guarantee that Tony's question is very common among learners.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 18:31
  • Such a great answer, tks again! Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 4:54

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