Word of the Week: Ambulatory

illustration of scientist looking into microscope - word of the week

Alex Dos Diaz / Verywell

Each week, Verywell explains a term from health, medicine, science, or technology.


How to say itAmbulatory (am-byoo-la-tor-ee)

What it means: Able to walk about; not stuck in bed.

Where it comes from: From Latin, ambulātōrius, "suitable for walking."

A close up of an unseen patient in a blue bathrobe using a walker with someone's hands guiding them.

Blend Images/JGI/Tom Grill/Getty

Where you might see or hear it: You might see the word "ambulatory" on a sign at a hospital or clinic. This type of care is also called "outpatient" because you do not need to be admitted to the hospital.

Getting a blood test at the lab or an imaging scan like an X-ray are a few examples of ambulatory care.

When you might want to use it: You may hear the word ambulatory or ambulate if you are in the hospital and healing after surgery. Your provider might tell you that you have to be "ambulatory" before you can be discharged.

You can tell your family that your provider said that you need to be able to safely get out of bed and walk a short distance—such as to the bathroom or down the hall—on your own before you can go home.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.