The Meaning of Triage: What It Is and How To Use It

If you are in an emergency room, you might hear the word triage. What does it mean? This article will tell you about the meaning of triage.

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If you have ever been inside of an emergency room, they might have told you that they take patients in order of triage. If you were confused by what this word meant, this article is sure to help you out! 

In this article, we will cover the meaning of the word triage, its origins, synonyms and antonyms, example sentences containing triage, and translations of this useful word. 

What Does Triage Mean?

According to Dictionary, the term triage can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb. As a noun, triage refers to the process of prioritizing the medical treatment of injured people in an emergency room or similar site. In hospital emergency rooms, there will be people who need immediate medical treatment because their ailment is life-threatening. These people will be treated sooner than others who need medical care for minor injuries or medical emergencies that are not life-threatening.

Triage is used in hospitals in order to split up limited resources in a way that will benefit the most people and create the highest number of survivors. Triage is performed by medical personnel called triage officers, who perform the determination of priorities based on the basis of expediency.

Often, triage is needed after a natural disaster or battle on a battlefield. When emergency services retrieve victims from disaster sites, they can also sort the priority of patients based on the severity of their condition to prevent mass casualty. Those who need immediate attention will be sent to an emergency department or similar facilities.

How Is Triage Determined?

The priority of emergency treatment can be determined in numerous ways. Medical personnel may take a patient’s vital signs like respiratory rate, pulse oximetry, and more to determine who needs to take precedence and who would have the greatest benefit by being seen soonest. 

Sometimes, someone might appear to have a severe injury but need less rapid treatment than someone else.

What Is the Origin of the Word Triage?

The concept of triage began with French doctors during World War I, according to Definitions. Dominique Jean Larrey treated his patients in order of medical priority during the Napoleonic Wars. 

Since the need for immediate medical attention was a scarce commodity in many places, he saw patients based on the urgency of illness and priority of the patient.

The triage comes from the French word trier, which means to sort. The word triage is the noun form of the word trier. In this type of patient treatment, patients are literally sorted on the basis of need and likelihood of survival.

How Can We Use Triage in a Sentence?

The word triage is frequently used in a medical context, so it is important to know how to understand this word in sentences — or at least when you hear it on Grey’s Anatomy. Reference the below example sentences before trying to use triage in a sentence on your own. 

The medical staff had to triage the victims of the earthquake because the hospital was so full.

I began to triage my emails when my inbox overflowed.

What Are Translations of Triage?

The concept of triage is used in more than just English-speaking countries — it began with French doctors, after all! 

There are many countries around the world that use triage to sort their patients in hospitals and emergency rooms. To learn how to discuss the concept of triage in other languages, you can reference this list of translations of triage from Nice Translator.

  • Bulgarian: сортиране
  • Welsh: brysbennu
  • Japanese: トリアージ
  • Arabic: نخب
  • Polish: ocena stanu zdrowia rannych
  • Russian: сортировка
  • Korean: 분류
  • Telugu: ట్రైజ్
  • Greek: τρυπώ
  • Ukrainian: сорт
  • Tamil: நாடகம்
  • Swedish: triage
  • Hungarian: triage
  • Lithuanian: triada
  • Catalan: tria
  • German: Triage
  • Hindi: ट्राइएज
  • French: triage
  • Basque: triatu
  • Gujarati: દખલ
  • Portuguese (Brazil): triagem
  • Amharic: ትሪያንግ
  • Malayalam: തോറിഞ്ഞു
  • Dutch: triage
  • Marathi: त्रस्त
  • Latvian: triage
  • Serbian: тријажа
  • Estonian: triage
  • Croatian: trijaža
  • Slovak: triedenie
  • Bengali: ট্রেজ
  • Thai: ตึก
  • Turkish: triyaj
  • Romanian: triaj
  • Hebrew: טרייג’
  • Kannada: ಚಿಕಿತ್ಸಾಲಯ
  • Portuguese (Portugal): triagem
  • Chinese (PRC): 次
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 次
  • Norwegian: prioritering
  • Czech: trojnictví
  • Italian: smistamento
  • Finnish: triage
  • Spanish: triage

What Are Synonyms of the Word Triage?

Triage is almost exclusively used as a medical term. If you need to refer to the process of prioritization in a non-medical sense, you can use one of the below synonyms from Power Thesaurus

All of these synonyms will reference priority and prioritization but may have a connotation that is not related to the medical field.

  • align
  • allocate
  • allocation
  • array
  • assortment
  • calibration
  • cataloging
  • categorization
  • class
  • classification
  • classify
  • codification
  • collocation
  • coordination
  • dispose
  • distinguish
  • emphasize
  • file
  • fix
  • gradation
  • group
  • grouping
  • lay out
  • line up
  • marshal
  • methodize
  • organize
  • picking
  • plan
  • position
  • prioritize
  • prioritized
  • prioritizes
  • put in order
  • range
  • rank
  • ranking
  • respond
  • set out
  • sizing
  • sort
  • sorting
  • systematize
  • tidy
  • treatment prioritization
  • typecasting
  • typology

What Are Antonyms of the Word Triage?

If you are trying to refer to things that have no prioritization or system of organization, you can use an antonym of triage. The word in this list of antonyms of triage from Power Thesaurus are all related to a lack of system or lack of organization.

  • befoul
  • besmirch
  • break
  • break the deck
  • break up
  • bring down
  • chaos
  • clutter
  • confuse
  • derange
  • derangement
  • disarrange
  • disarrangement
  • disarray
  • disorder
  • disorderedness
  • disorderliness
  • disorganization
  • disorganize
  • disperse
  • displace
  • disrupt
  • disturb
  • jumble
  • lack of system
  • mess
  • mix up
  • muddle
  • nonsystem
  • scatter


Overall, triage refers to sorting patients in terms of importance when there are limited medical resources. Emergency patients are sorted into categories of priority. The word triage comes from the French verb trier and is often used in the United States in emergency rooms.


  1. Triage synonyms – 236 Words and Phrases for Triage | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Triage antonyms – 114 Opposites of Triage | Power Thesaurus
  3. What does triage mean? | Definitions   
  4. Triage | Nice Translator 
  5. Triage Definition & Meaning |