Chronic Migraine, Community, Coping

“Migraineur,” an Offensive Term?

Migraineur: a person who has migraine (according to Merriam-Webster)

I use the term “migraineur” regularly to refer to people who have migraine. I’ve deliberately chosen “migraineur” over “migraine sufferer” in my writing because the latter makes us sound like victims, which I refuse to identify as. I also believe suffering is a state of mind and that one can have an illness without suffering from it. As the Buddhist wisdom says, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” — embracing that belief has been a life-affirming, empowering shift in my attitude toward chronic migraine’s role in my life.

Now I’ve learned from Am I a Migraineur? on the fabulous blog Migraine Monologues that “migraineur” has it’s own controversy. Some people believe that calling oneself a migraineur is tying a person’s identity to migraine. I had no idea it carried that connotation and, while I understand the argument, I don’t buy into it personally.

Maybe because I don’t really use migraineur as an identifier (I rarely say “I am a migraineur,” preferring “I have chronic migraine” instead), but to refer to someone or a group of people who have migraine — such as, “…anything that helps families better comprehend the plight of migraine is a boon to all migraineurs.” For me, “migraineur” is a less wordy way to say “people with migraine,” not an identity.

Or maybe I’m so opposed to “migraine sufferer” (and am not thrilled with “migraine patient”) that I have no room left to be offended by the alternatives!

What do you think? Do you have a preference for “migraineur,” “migraine sufferer,” “migraine patient,” “person with migraine,” or some other description?

6 thoughts on ““Migraineur,” an Offensive Term?”

  1. Chris, aren’t people with diabetes usually referred to as diabetic? Given the French connotations of -eur, would migranetic be preferable to migraineur?

    Thanks for your support, Timothy!

    Interesting information, Suki. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I think people will find fault in whatever words we come up with.

    Jess, I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time. NDPH is definitely behind migraine in terms of research and treatment. I caution you in saying your experience is worse than that of those with migraine or any other disorder. We can’t know what another person goes through and it’s offensive to be told our experience is less than that of someone else. Best of luck finding a helpful treatment.

    Sorry for the delayed reply, everyone. The brain fog has been too bad to think in more than little bursts!


  2. Hey everyone I have been reading all your blogging, I do not have migraines they are actually worse than most Migraines from what I have heard and read..

    I have New Persistent Daily Chronic Headaches- No cure.

    In 2011 I had my gallbladder out and then my appendix out,four days later the worst pain ive ever felt thought I was going to die.

    Going to the hospital is a waste of time and money. I was told all you have is a migraine, here is some reglan (what a joke a nausea med). Back and forth to the ER, given neurologists name. I had so many MRI-CT scans,nothing. More nonsense meds,spinal tap. Narcotics that don’t work. They Neurologist gave me topiramate no luck,and a med that deals with half my brain. She sent me to the leading headache specialist in my area, he is amazing,although no cure.

    teI have tried Cymbalta, Higher levels of topiramate,gabapentin, Prazocin, steroids…so many more I cant remember them all.

    Ondonethestrin (Zofran),Meclizine,Reglan, Excedrine, Tylenol.

    Magnetic band,deep muscle massage, heat/ cold.

    Botox- tried 3 times of 45 pricks, and no help my headache 15 % it dont help.

    Dizzy, nausea, off balanced, headache.

    My headache started July 31 11. It was two in the afternoon when it hit worst pain I ever felt.

    I remember the exact date. I am trying for SS and no luck.

    I go to all my doctors no matte what and I keep a headache log.

    ER DR thought I was a drug addict, nope not me all I want if for the headache to be gone.

  3. I should have noted that the link to the article is at the top. (why I am not a blogger despite jesuit education- maybe a James Joyce Ulysses sort of blog would work for me)

    On a more serious note see:
    Research and Training Center on Independent Living Guidelines for Writing about People with disabilities.Gladly- persons with chemical sensitivities and chronic fatigues syndrome are mentioned, conditions long considered “imaginary”, like migraine- only migraine has been seen that way longer). Sadly- I see no mention of migraine disease.


    Hi Kerrie,
    I didn’t read the monologue yet, but I shall.
    A friend pointed out to me that I would technically be called “migraineuse”.

    Anyway- I found a pretty good article about person centered language which is a prominent tenet of advocacy in the disabilities movement. Since I’d like migraine to be recognized as a disabling condition, I’d like to be labelled in any way that aligns me with that I suppose. Also, “Migraineur”
    will rapidly delove to “migrainer” in US english, sounds derogatory already doesn’t it? e.g.,
    “She’s an old migrainer and she’s Migraining again” says the boss after receiving a sick day call from me in the a.m.

  5. Kerrie:

    As you know am a long time headache/migraine sufferer.
    The term “Migraineur” is definitely not offensive at all to me.
    I like the wordage “anything that helps families better under
    stand…” that make migraineur a key word to somewhat
    relate what going through. Keep up the good work Kerrie.

  6. I work in the field of healthcare and I tend to think of migraine and chronic migraine in a similar way to other conditions and diseases. In general discussions and labels are things such as, “patients with a diagnosis of chronic migraine” or, “diagnosed with chronic migraine”.

    Personally I do not care for the label or term of migraineur. When it comes to people who have been diagnosed with Diabetes we do not refer to them, either individually or as a group, as Diabeticeurs, or Diabetesuers. Why would the condition, disease, diagnosis of Migraine or Chronic Migraine be different?

    I agree that “sufferer” is not a term or label that has much, if any, value in this context. The idea of suffering, as pointed out in the original post, suffering or “sufferer” is not really appropriate.

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