Merriam Webster's Medical Desk Dictionary, an update of the 1986 edition published as Webster's Medical Desk Dictionary, is written for laypeople. Its format and size remain unchanged. According to the publisher, there are more than 5,000 new words, and 6,000 definitions have been revised. Definitions for such terms as AIDS have been extensively revised to reflect the Center for Disease Control's new criteria. As in the previous one, some 1,000 biographies of individuals whose names are an integral part of the medical literature are included.
The publisher claims that this volume "combines a medical wordlist (including British terms and spelling variants) selected and defined on the basis of citational evidence." Since there are several million medically relevant citations, a critical review of those included in this dictionary was made. Also, every word used in the defining vocabulary had to be in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. The result is a usable and understandable dictionary that includes pronunciation, capitalization, division, usage, and variants. There are no illustrations. The definitions are concise and technical but still understandable by the educated layperson.