A post says

Bureaucratese is an informal term for obscure speech or writing that is typically characterized by verbosity, euphemisms, jargon, and buzzwords. Also known as officialese, corporate-speak, and government-speak. Contrast with plain English.

as per another post, "Jargon" is the opposite of "Plain English"

Cambridge Dictionary gives this definition of "jargon"

special words and phrases that are used by particular groups of people, especially in their work

In the field of medical, people would use the phrase "ophthalmic diseases" to refer to "eye diseases".

Is my understanding (the following) correct?

"ophthalmic diseases" is some kind of Jargon, while "eye diseases" is a kind of Plain English.


3 Answers 3


(Question having been edited.) Ophthalmic is formal medical terminology, which doctors use for reasons of accuracy. You could call it jargon, but that might be considered a bit disrespectful.

Merriam-Webster gives a second definition of jargon as Obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words. That's the sort of jargon that is the opposite of 'plain English'.

  • 1
    Thank you. How about this one, which I guess has nothing to do with disrespectfulness.
    – JJJohn
    May 25, 2020 at 8:59

Jargon is using language that would not be understood by a typical layperson (a non-expert).

Personally, I would not say the term "ophthalmic" is jargon. Although it is relatively difficult to spell, the term is widely understood by native speakers who are not in the medical field, and by anyone with a smattering of Latin in their scholastic education. Some people call an ophthalmic optician an eye doctor, which is a perfectly fine title but it does sound simplistic.

If something is written or spoken in jargon, it is usually difficult to decipher, and requires the listener or reader to be familiar with the topic. It's often used in a derogatory way but it can be used to separate the wheat from the chaff.

When I realise I am out of my depth or comfort zone, I might call the text or the topic under discussion; legalese, esoteric, abstruse or even recondite; words which, one might argue, are quite (UK sense) uncommon themselves.

In plain English, meaningless words and long-winded phrases uttered (mainly) either to impress or intimidate the listener or reader are said to be "mumbo jumbo". However, after @anotherdave's comment below, I would agree that jargon and mumbo jumbo are not synonymous but people will mix the two up.

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    I'd disagree that jargon is another word for mumbo jumbo, as the terms have clear meaning even if not well understood by the listener. Maybe a speaker who themselves doesn't understand the jargon could effectively be using it like mumbo jumbo to try and "blind someone with science". Personally I would consider opthalmic to be jargon — for example, here is a page from the NHS where they explain terms like "Ophthalmic medical practitioner" and "Ophthalmologist" as opposed to the layman's term, optician. May 25, 2020 at 10:40
  • @anotherdave the expression "eye doctor" is even easier to understand, especially for non-native speakers. And I disagree that ophthalmic is jargon, obscure or pretentious for the majority of literate native speakers, it may be formal and not used in everyday speech by the layperson, but it is understandable.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 25, 2020 at 10:58
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    To me I wouldn't say jargon has to be pretentious or unintelligible to a layperson, but I think it's a term with a precise technical or specialist meaning, that isn't often necessary required outside a specialist context — i.e. where plainer language would be sufficient. If someone asked me where to get "ophthalmic solution" rather than "eye drops" I would definitely wonder why they were using jargon :) May 25, 2020 at 12:30
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    "Eye doctor" does sound very simplistic to my ear (not very common outside the US, AFAIK), but is probably a good example of people preferring a simpler phrase & using it accurately, rather than the UK-variant of calling everyone an "optician" when meaning any of "optician / optometrist / ophthalmologist /etc." May 25, 2020 at 12:30

"Opthalmic diseases" isn't jargon. It's simply a technical or professional or medical term (which means "eye diseases"). All terminology is not "jargon". The terminology which is not understood by people outside a specific group is called "jargon". But "Opthalmic diseases" is a medical term which is widely understood by people outside the medical field. So, it's a professional / medical term but not a jargon.

The opposite of plain English goes by different names, such as :

  1. jargon : Jargon is a technical terminology unique to a particular subject and incomprehensible or unintelligible to other people outside a specific group. ("Opthalmic diseases" is such a term that is widely understood by people outside the medical field, hence it's not "jargon".)

  2. bureaucratese : A style of language, typically used by bureaucrats, that involves jargon or euphemism to the detriment of broader understanding.

  3. doublespeak : Any language deliberately constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often by employing euphemism or ambiguity.

  4. gobbledygook : Something written in an overly complex, incoherent, or incomprehensible manner.

  5. gibberish : Needlessly obscure or overly technical language.

  6. skotison : Intentionally obscure speech or writing, designed to confuse an audience rather than clarify an issue.

These are not applicable for the phrase "Opthalmic diseases".

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    The primary meaning of "jargon" is "the technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or group" according to Merriam Webster. In other words, medical terminology is jargon, and "opthalmic" is jargon in the primary sense of the word. And do you have any evidence whatsoever that "opthalmic" is "widely" understood, let alone "widely used," among native speakers. My experience is that it is understood by many well educated people, but used almost exclusively by those who work or have worked in medicine or eye care. May 25, 2020 at 13:57
  • Nope, it's not "jargon" because it's not unintelligible. May 25, 2020 at 17:29
  • Jargon is a technical terminology unique to a particular subject and unintelligible to other people outside a specific group. There are 'science jargon', 'business jargon' etc. But "opthalmic diseases" is not such a terminology that is not understood by other people. It's widely understood by people outside the medical field too. So, it's not "jargon". May 25, 2020 at 17:50

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