Anatomical terms A-Z

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#-A

  • abdomen: Latin abdomen = the belly, the part of the trunk between thorax and the perineum, adjective - abdominal.
  • abducent: Latin ab = from, and ducens = led, hence, moving from, or effecting separation.
  • abduction: Latin ab = from, and ductum = led, hence, movement from; verb - abduct.
  • aberrant: Latin ab = from, and errare = to wander, hence, deviating from normal.
  • accessory: adjective, Latin accessum = added, hence, supplementary.
  • accommodation: Latin ad = to, and modus = measure, hence, adaptation of the optical power (focussing) of the eye for shorter distances.
  • acetabulum: Latin acetum = vinegar (cf. acetic), and abulum = small receptacle, hence, a vinegar cup, hence, the socket for the head of the femur, adjective - acetabular.
  • acoustic: adjective, Greek akoustikos, related to hearing.
  • acromion: Greek akros = summit (cf. Acropolis) and omos = shoulder, hence, the tip of the shoulder.
  • adduction: Latin ad = to, and ductum = led, hence, movement towards; verb - adduct.
  • adenoid: Greek aden = a gland, eidos = shape or form.
  • adhesion: Latin ad = to, and haesus = stuck, hence, stuck to, e.g., interthalamic adhesion - variable and functionally insignificant.
  • adipose: Latin adeps = fat, hence fatty
  • aditus: Latin ad = to, towards, iter = a way, hence an opening or entrance.
  • adrenal: Latin ad = towards, at, ren = kidney, hence situated near the kidney (see suprarenal)
  • adrenergic: adjective, Latin ad = at, ren = kidney, and Greek ergon = work, hence, stimuli which cause the adrenal (suprarenal) gland to produce adrenaline. Used to specify neurons or pathways which use adrenaline as a transmitter.
  • afferent: adjective, Latin ad = to, and ferent = carrying (cf. ferry), hence, carrying to, e.g., axons carrying information from retina to lateral geniculate nucleus are afferents to that nucleus.
  • agonist: Greek agonistes = rival, hence, a muscle in apparent contest with another. Used for a prime mover.
  • ala: Latin wing, hence a wing-like process; plural - alae.
  • alaeque: Latin ala = wing (ala of nose), suffix -que = and, hence levator labii superioris alaeque nasi muscles = lifter of the upper lip and ala of nose.
  • alba: Latin albus = white
  • albicans: Latin = becoming white; albus = white
  • albuginea: Latin albus = white, Greek gen = form, hence, like boiled white of an egg.
  • alimentary: adjective, Latin alimentum = food, e.g., alimentary canal.
  • allantois: Greek allantos = sausage, eidos = like, form.
  • allocortex: Greek allos = other (than usual), and Latin cortex = bark, hence non-laminated external grey matter. It refers to paleo- or archi-cortex, as distinct from neocortex.
  • alveolus: Latin a basin, hence any small hollow. Plural - alveoli, adjective - alveolar.
  • alveus: Latin = tray. The allusion is unclear. The alveus is a layer of fibres on the free surface of the hippocampus.
  • ambiguus: adjective, Latin = doubtful (nucleus ambiguus).
  • ampulla: Latin = a two-handed flask, a local dilatation of a tube.
  • amygdaloid: adjective, Greek amygdala = almond, and eidos = shape or form, hence, amygdaloid body is an almond-shaped mass.
  • amylacea: Greek amylon = starch, hence, starchy.
  • anaesthesia: Greek an = negative, and aisthesis = sensation, hence, loss of sensation; adjective - anaesthetic.
  • analgesia: Greek an = negative, and algesis = pain, hence insensibility to pain; adjective - analgesic.
  • analogous: Greek ana = up, apart, towards, and logos = word. A part with similar function through different morphology e.g., fish gills and mammalian lungs (c.f. homologous).
  • anastomosis: Greek ana = of each, and stoma = mouth, hence the end-to-end continuity of 2 vessels; adjective - anastomotic.
  • anatomy: Greek ana = up, and tome = a cutting, hence cutting up of a body (c.f. dissection).
  • anconeus: Greek ancon = elbow, hence the muscle attached to the (lateral surface of the) olecranon.
  • aneurysm: Greek angeion = blood vessel, and eurys = wide, hence a pathological dilatation of a blood vessel.
  • angiography: Greek angeion (v.s.) and graphe = a record, hence a picture of a blood vessel which has been injected with a dye or radiopaque material.
  • anhidrosis: (anhydrosis, anidrosis) Greek an = negative, and hidros = sweat, hence absence of sweating, typical of skin deprived of its sympathetic innervation.
  • ankle: the region between the leg and the foot.
  • annulus: diminutive of Latin anus = ring, hence little ring.
  • ansa: Latin a handle or loop. Applicable to nerves.
  • anserinus: Latin anser = a goose, hence like a goose, plural - anserina.
  • antagonist: Greek anti = against, and agonistes = rival, hence a muscle which may oppose an agonist.
  • anteflexion: Latin ante = before, and flexere = to bend, hence anterior angulation between the body and cervix of the uterus.
  • anterior: comparative of Latin ante = before, in front.
  • anteversion: Latin ante = before, and versum = turned, hence, the anterior angulation between cervix uteri and the vagina.
  • antidromic: adjective, Greek a = negative, and dromos = current, hence conducting in the opposite direction to the usual.
  • antrum: Greek antron - cave, hence a space in a bone or organ.
  • anulus: diminutive of Latin anus = ring, hence little ring.
  • anus: Latin = ring, adjective - anal.
  • aorta: Latin aorta, from Greek aorte = literally 'what is hung up,' from aeirein 'to lift, heave, raise,' of uncertain origin. Originally applied by Aristotle to the great artery of the heart, earlier by Hippocrates to the bronchial tubes.
  • aponeurosis: Greek apo = from, and neuron = tendon (later applied to nerve cell and its fibres), used for sheet-like tendons. Adjective - aponeurotic.
  • apophysis: Greek apo = from, and physis = growth, hence, a bony process - reserved for the articular process of a vertebra; adjective - apophysial.
  • appendage: Latin appendere = to hang on, supplement.
  • appendix: Latin appendere = to hang on, supplement.
  • apposition: Latin appositus = placed at, hence, in contact, in juxtaposition.
  • aqueduct: Latin aqua = water, and ductus = drawn or led off, hence a channel for conducting fluid, e.g. the cerebral aqueduct of the midbrain, which transmits fluid from the 3rd to the 4th ventricle.
  • arachnoid: adjective, Greek arachne = spider, and eidos = shape or form, hence like a spiders web. This middle layer of the three meninges is spread web-like over the brain when the dura has been removed.
  • arbor vitae: Latin arbor = tree, and vita = life, hence, resembling the tree of life. This colourful term is used to describe the pattern of cerebellar folia seen in a median section.
  • archaeocerebellum: Greek archi = first, hence the oldest part of the cerebellum, which is the flocculonodular lobe.
  • archaeopallium: Greek archi = first, and pallium = cloak, hence the cortex which developed first in vertebrates. Often synonymous with hippocampal formation.
  • archicerebellum: Greek archi = first, hence the oldest part of the cerebellum, which is the flocculonodular lobe.
  • archipallium: Greek archi = first, and pallium = cloak, hence the cortex which developed first in vertebrates. Often synonymous with hippocampal formation.
  • archistriatum: Greek archi = first, and Latin striatum = streaked or fluted.
  • arcuate: Latin arcuatum = curved or arched.
  • arcus: Latin an arch, Latin arcuatum = curved or arched.
  • area: a part of a surface.
  • areola: Latin small, open space.
  • arm: the upper limb, between shoulder and elbow.
  • arrector: Latin adrectus = raised, hence, arrector pili = a hair-raising muscle.
  • artery: Latin arteria (which originally meant air- or wind-pipe, and later a blood vessel carrying blood away from the heart).
  • articulation: Latin artus = joint, hence, articulate - to form a joint.
  • arytenoid: Greek arytaina = pitcher, and eidos = shape or form, hence the arytenoid cartilage because it curves like a spout.
  • aspect: a view of more than one surface.
  • astrocyte: Greek astron = star, and kytos = cell, hence a star-shaped (neuroglial) cell.
  • ataxia,: Greek a = negative, and taxis = order, hence inability to co-ordinate the voluntary muscles.
  • atlas: Greek atlao = I sustain. Atlas was a mythical god who sustained the globe on his shoulders. The 1st vertebra sustains the skull, and its upper surface bears 2 concavities which suggest Atlas' palms, not shoulders.
  • atresia: Greek a = negative, and tresis = a hole, hence an absence or closure of a body orifice or tubular organ
  • atrium: Latin = entrance hall, adjective - atrial.
  • atrophy: Greek a = negative, and trophe = food, hence wasting from starvation.
  • auditory: Latin audire = to hear, hence, pertaining to the ear.
  • auricle: Latin auricula = a little ear.
  • auscultate: Latin ausculto = to listen to, hence, auscultation, the act of listening to a bodily activity.
  • autonomic: adjective, Greek auto = self, and nomos = law, hence self-regulating.
  • axis: Latin axis = the central line of a body or part thereof, especially the imaginary line around which rotation takes place.
  • axon: Latin axis = axis, hence the main process of a neuron conducting impulses away from the cell body.
  • azygos: adjective, Greek a = negative, and zygos = paired, hence, unpaired.

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B

  • basilar: adjective, Latin basis = base.
  • basilic: adjective, Arabic al-basilik = inner; the basilic vein is on the inner side of the forearm and arm. Previously thought to be of Greek origin, basilikos = royal (king-sized).
  • biceps: Latin bis = double, and caput = head, hence 2-headed, adjective - bicipital.
  • bifid: adjective, Latin bis = double, and findo = to split.
  • bifurcate: Latin bis = double, and furco = fork, hence to divide into two.
  • bilateral: Latin bi = two, lateral = side, hence, pertaining to two (both) sides.
  • bipennate: adjective, Latin bis = double, and pinna = feather, hence converging from 2 sides.
  • body: the main part.
  • brachiocephalic: Latin brachium = arm, and Greek kephale = head, hence a blood vessel related to the upper limb and head.
  • brachium: Latin = arm, adjective - brachial.
  • branchia: Greek = gills, adjective - branchial.
  • bregma: from a Greek word implying moist, referring to the site of the anterior fontanelle (q.v.), a little fountain, the site of junction of the coronal and sagittal sutures, where the brain can be felt pulsating in infancy.
  • brevis: Latin = short - cf. brief.
  • bronchiole: diminutive of bronchus, hence a small bronchus (bronchi have cartilage in their walls, bronchioles have no cartilage).
  • bronchus: derivation unhelpful - a branch of the trachea, adjective - bronchial.
  • buccal: adjective, Latin bucca = cheek.
  • buccinator: Latin = trumpeter - hence the muscle which blows air out from the cheek under pressure.
  • bulbus: Latin = bulb or onion.
  • bursa: Greek = a purse, hence a flattened sac containing a film of fluid.

C

  • calcaneus: Latin calx = heel, hence the bone of the heel.
  • calcar avis: Latin the spur of a bird, hence a spur-like elevation.
  • calcarine: Latin calcar = spur, hence spur-shaped.
  • calf: the soft tissue swelling at the back of the leg.
  • calix: Latin = a wine-cup (plural - calices).
  • calvaria: Latin calva = bald head, hence the part of the skull containing the brain - i.e. cranium minus the facial skeleton.
  • calyx: Latin = a wine-cup (plural - calyces).
  • canal: Latin canalis = a water-pipe or canal.
  • cancellous: adjective, Latin cancelli = grating or lattice.
  • canine: adjective, Latin canis = dog.
  • canthus: Greek kanthos - used at first for rim of eye, then angle between ends of rims.
  • capillary: Latin capillaris = hair-like, hence a very thin blood vessel.
  • capitate: adjective, having a caput from Latin capitis = of a head (q.v.).
  • capitulum: diminutive of caput, Latin = head.
  • capsule: Latin capsa = box, hence an enclosing sheet.
  • caput: Latin = head. Capitis - of a head, adjective - capitate = having a head (cf. decapitate).
  • caput medusae: Latin caput = head, Medusa = Greek mythical female with snake like hair.
  • cardiac: adjective, Greek kardia = heart.
  • cardinal: Latin cardinalis = principal, of primary importance.
  • carotid: Greek karoo, to put to sleep (heavy sleep), because compression of the common or internal carotid artery may cause coma.
  • carpus: Greek = wrist, adjective - carpal.
  • cartilage: Latin = gristle; adjective - cartilaginous.
  • caruncle: diminutive of Latin caro = flesh, hence, a small fleshy elevation.
  • cauda: Latin = tail, adjective - caudate - having a tail.
  • caudal: Latin cauda = tail, hence toward the tail, inferior (in human anatomy).
  • caudate: Latin cauda = tail, hence having a tail.
  • cava: Latin cavum = cave, hollow.
  • cavernous: Latin containing caverns or cave-like spaces.
  • cavity: Latin cavitas = a hollow.
  • celiac: adjective, Greek koilia = belly.
  • celom: Greek koilos = a hollow
  • central: adjective, Latin centrum = centre.
  • cephalic: adjective, Greek kephale = head. The term cephalic, as applied to the cephalic vein, was a mistranslation of Arabic and interpreted to be from the Greek term kephale = head. Arabic al-kifal = outer; the cephalic vein is on outer side of the forearm and arm (compare to basilic).
  • cerebrum: Latin = brain, adjective - cerebral.
  • cervical: adjective, Latin cervix = neck, hence, pertaining to the neck.
  • cervix: Latin = neck, adjective - cervical.
  • chiasma: Greek kiasma = cross. (The Greek letter chi = c).
  • choana: Greek = funnel, plural - choanae.
  • chondral: adjective, Greek chondros = cartilage.
  • choroid: adjective, Greek chorion = skin and eidos = shape or form, hence, like a membrane.
  • ciliary: adjective, Latin cilia = eyelashes.
  • cilium: Latin = eyelid, hence, an eyelash; adjective - ciliary, or ciliated.
  • cingulum: Latin girdle or belt, adjective - cingulate.
  • circumflex: verb and adjective, Latin circum = around, and flexere = to bend, hence, bend or bent around.
  • claustrum: Latin clausum = closed, hence a barrier.
  • clavicle: diminutive of Latin clavis = key - old Roman key was S-shaped.
  • cleido: Greek, cleis = key, a combining form denoting relationship to the clavicle.
  • clinoid: adjective, Greek kline = bed, eidos = shape or form, hence, like a bed-post.
  • clivus: Latin = slope (cf. declivity).
  • cloaca: Latin = a drain, sewer; common opening for intestinal, urinary and genital tracts in lower vertebrates, it is a transitory structure in human embryological development.
  • coccyx: Greek kokkyx = cuckoo, whose bill the coccyx resembles.
  • cochlea: Latin = snail, hence the spiral cochlea, adjective - cochlear.
  • coeliac: adjective, Greek koilia = belly.
  • coeruleus: adjective, Latin = blue, hence, locus coeruleus, a group of nerve cells in the rostral pons coloured blue or black by melanin.
  • coli: Latin = of the colon.
  • collateral: adjective, Latin con = together, and latus = side, hence, alongside.
  • colli: genetive (possessive case) of collum, Latin = neck
  • collum: Latin = neck (cf. collar).
  • colon: Greek kolon = large intestine.
  • columna: Latin = column, or pillar.
  • comitans: adjective, Latin = accompanying.
  • commissure: Latin con = together, and missum = sent, hence fibres which cross between symmetrical parts.
  • confluens: Latin con = together, and fluens = flowing, hence the meeting of more than one stream.
  • conjunctiva: Latin con = with, and junctus = joined (cf. junction), hence the continuous bulbar and palpebral lining membrane.
  • conoid: Greek konoeides = resembling a cone, cone shape
  • constrictor: Latin con = together, and strictum = drawn tight, hence, producing narrowing.
  • contour: Greek tornos = lathe, hence a line which turns - an outline.
  • contralateral: Latin contra = against, latus = side, hence, the opposite side (as opposed to ipsilateral)
  • conus: Latin = cone, conus medullaris - the lower end of the spinal cord.
  • coracoid: adjective, Greek korax = a crow, and eidos = shape or form, hence, like a crow's beak.
  • cornea: Latin cornu = horn, hence, the dense tissue forming the front of the eyeball.
  • corona: Latin = crown. adjective - coronary or coronal; hence a coronal plane is parallel to the main arch of a crown which passes from ear to ear (cf. coronal suture).
  • coronal: Latin corona = crown; hence a coronal plane is parallel to the main arch of a crown which passes from ear to ear (cf. coronal suture).
  • coronary: adjective, Latin = crown, hence, encircling like a crown.
  • coronoid: adjective, Greek korone = a crown, eidos = shape or form, hence, shaped like a crown.
  • corpus: Latin = body, plural - corpora.
  • corrugator: Latin con = together, and ruga = wrinkle, hence a muscle that produces wrinkles.
  • cortex: Latin = bark, adjective, cortical.
  • costa: Latin = rib. adjective - costal.
  • coxa: Latin = hip, hence os coxae = the hip bone.
  • cranium: Greek kranion = skull. (In anthropology = skull minus mandible) adjective - cranial.
  • cremaster: Greek = suspender, hence the muscle which suspends the testis.
  • cribriform: adjective, Latin cribrum = sieve, hence, sieve-like.
  • cricoid: adjective, Greek krikos = ring, and eidos = shape or form, hence, ring-like, i.e. circular.
  • crista: Latin = crest, crista galli = the (median) crest of a cock.
  • cruciate: adjective, Latin crux = cross, hence, crossed like the letter X.
  • crus: Latin = leg, plural - crura.
  • cubital: adjective, Latin cubitus = elbow.
  • cuboid: adjective, Greek kuboides = cube-shaped.
  • culmen: Latin = summit (cf. culminate).
  • cuneate: adjective, Latin = a wedge.
  • cuneiform: adjective, Latin cuneus = wedge, hence wedge-shaped.
  • cuneus: Latin = a wedge, adjective - cuneate.
  • cusp: Latin cuspis = a pointed elevation.
  • cyst: Greek kystis = bladder, adjective - cystic.

Table of contents:

.A | .B | .C | .D | .E | .F | .G | .H | .I | .J | .K | .L | .M

.N | .O | .P | .Q | .R | .S | .T | .U | .V | .W | .X | .Y | .Z

D

  • dartos: Greek = flayed or skinned.
  • declive: Latin declivitas = slope (cf. clivus).
  • decussation: Latin decussatus = crossed like the letter X.
  • deep: further from the surface.
  • deferens: adjective, Latin = carrying down.
  • deglutition: Latin deglutire = to swallow, hence the act of swallowing.
  • dehiscence: Latin de = away, hiscere = to gape, hence, a separation, a splitting away.
  • deltoid: adjective, Greek delta (D). The capital has a triangular shape (cf. the delta of the Nile river).
  • dendrite: or dendron, Greek = a tree, hence like the branches of a tree.
  • dens: Latin = tooth (cf. dentist), adjective - dental.
  • dentate: Latin dens = tooth, hence, having a toothed margin.
  • denticulate: Latin dens = tooth, hence, having small tooth-like projections.
  • dentine: from Latin dens = tooth; the substance of the tooth surrounding the pulp.
  • depress: Latin de = prefix implying descent, and pressum = pressed, hence to press down, and depression = downward movement or a concavity on a surface.
  • dermatome: Greek derma = skin, tome = a cutting or division, hence a segment of skin supplied by a single spinal ganglion.
  • dermis: Greek = skin, adjective - dermal.
  • diaphragm: Greek dia = across, and phragma = wall, hence, a partition, adjective - diaphragmatic (see also phrenic).
  • diaphysis: Greek dia = apart, and physis = growth, hence, the body of a long bone between the growing regions near the ends.
  • diastole: Greek dia = apart, and stellein = sending, hence sending the walls of the heart apart, i.e. relaxation or dilatation. Adjective - diastolic.
  • diencephalon: Greek dia = between, and enkephalos = brain, hence in general the structures surrounding the 3rd ventricle. adjective - diencephalic.
  • digastric: adjective, Greek dia = double, and gaster = belly, hence, 2-bellied.
  • digit: Latin digitus = a finger or toe, usually excepting the pollex (thumb) or hallux (big toe), adjective - digital.
  • diplopia: Greek diploos = double, and opsis = vision, hence double vision.
  • diplo: Greek = fold, hence the cancellous bone between the inner and outer tables of the skull, adjective - diploic.
  • dissection: Latin disssecare = to cut up, from dis = apart, sectum = cut (c.f. anatomy).
  • distal: adjective, Latin di = apart, and stans = standing, hence, standing apart, implying farther from a given point, usually the root of a limb.
  • diverticulum: Latin = by-road, hence a blind tubular process or sac.
  • dorsal: adjective, Latin dorsum = back.
  • duodenum: Latin duodenarius = twelve, because it is 12 fingerbreadths long.
  • dura: adjective, Latin = hard (cf. durable); dura mater, the tough covering membrane of the central nervous system.
  • dysphagia: Greek dys = difficult, and phagein = to eat, hence, difficulty in swallowing.

E

  • ectoderm: Greek ektos = outside, and derm = skin, hence, the outermost germ layer of the embryo.
  • ectopic: Greek ek = out, and topos = place, hence out of place.
  • edge: border or margin of a surface.
  • efferent: adjective, Latin ex = out, and ferens = carrying, hence, conducting from.
  • ejaculatory: Latin ex = out, and jacere = to throw, hence throwing out.
  • elbow: the junction between arm and forearm.
  • elevate: Latin elevatus = raised up, hence, to raise up, and elevation = a raised part.
  • emboliformis: adjective, Greek embolus = wedge or blocking matter.
  • embryo: Greek en = within, and bryein = to swell or grow, hence the early stage of intrauterine development.
  • eminence: Latin eminens = projecting, hence, a projection (usually smooth).
  • emissary: adjective, Latin e = out, and emissum = sent out; emissary vein, one connecting intra- with extra-cranial venous channels.
  • encephalon: Greek en = within, and kephalos = head, hence, the brain.
  • endocardium: Greek endo = within, and kardia = heart, hence, the endothelial lining of the chambers of the heart.
  • endocranium: Greek endo = within, and kranion = skull, hence, the outer endostial layer of the dura mater.
  • endocrine: Greek endo = within, and krinein = to separate, hence, the organs that ductlessly secrete their products into the bloodstream.
  • endoderm: Greek endo = within, and derm = skin, hence, the germ layer of the embryo that gives rise to epithelium of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.
  • endolymph: Greek endo = within, and Latin lympha = clear water, hence the fluid within the membranous labyrinth of the internal ear.
  • endometrium: Greek endo = within, and metra = uterus, hence the mucosal lining of the uterine cavity.
  • endothelium: Greek endo = within, and thele = the nipple; the squamous epithelium lining the heart and blood vessels.
  • ependyma: Greek = an upper garment. It may refer to a vest or singlet, i.e. an under-garment, hence, the lining membrane of the ventricles of the brain and central canal of the spinal cord.
  • epicanthus: Greek epi = upon, and kanthos = corner, hence, the fold of skin over the inner angle of the upper eyelid, a normal characteristic in certain races, and a congenital anomaly in others.
  • epicardium: Greek epi = upon, and kardia = heart, hence, the visceral layer of serous pericardium which covers the heart.
  • epicondyle: Greek epi = upon, and kondylos = knuckle, hence a prominence on a condyle of the humerus or femur.
  • epicranial: adjective, Greek epi = upon, and kranion = skull, hence, the epicranial aponeurosis (galea) connecting frontalis to occipitalis muscles.
  • epidermis: Greek epi = upon, and derm = skin, hence, the most external layer of the skin.
  • epididymis: Greek epi = upon, and didymos = testis, hence, the organ perched posterosuperior to the testis.
  • epidural: adjective, Greek epi = upon, Latin dura = tough, hence, external to dura mater.
  • epigastrium: Greek epi = upon, and gaster = belly, hence, the upper median zone of the abdomen.
  • epiglottis: Greek epi = upon, and glottis = larynx, hence the uppermost part of the larynx.
  • epimysium: Greek epi = upon, and mys = muscle, hence the connective tissue surrounding an entire muscle.
  • epiphysis: Greek epi = upon, and physis = growth, hence, the end of a long bone beyond the cartilaginous growth disc, adjective - epiphysial.
  • epiploic: adjective, Greek epiploon = a net, which the greater omentum resembles with fat entangled in it.
  • epithelium: Greek epi = upon, and thele = the nipple; the cell layer lining the internal and external surfaces of the body.
  • erector: Latin erectus = straight or upright.
  • ethmoid: adjective, Greek ethmos = sieve, and eidos = shape or form, hence, like a sieve; an unpaired skull bone.
  • eversion: Latin e = out, and versum = turned, hence turned outwards.
  • exophthalmos: Greek exo = out, and ophthalmos = eye, hence, prominent eyeball.
  • extend: Latin extendo = extend or stretch out, hence, extension = extended or straightened; the position opposite to the flexed or bent.
  • external: adjective, Latin externus = outward, hence, further from the inside.
  • extraperitoneal: adjective, Latin extra = outside, Greek peri = around and teinein = stretched, hence outside the serous membrane stretched around the inside of the abdominal wall and around the viscera.
  • extrapyramidal: Latin extra = outside, and pyramidal (q.v.), hence descending nerve tracts that do not traverse the pyramids of the medulla.
  • extrinsic: Latin extrinsecus = from without, hence (usually) a muscle (usually) originating outside the part on which it acts.

F

(type full word or first few letters)

  • fabella: diminutive of Latin faba = a bean, hence, a sesamoid bone found in the lateral head of gastrocnemius.
  • facet: Latin facies = face, hence a small smooth bony surface, either coated with articular cartilage or the site of a tendinous attachment (cf. a facet on a diamond).
  • facilitate: Latin facilis = easy, hence, to make easy.
  • falciform: adjective, Latin falx = a sickle, and forma = form, hence, shaped like a sickle.
  • falx: Latin = sickle, hence, the sickle-shaped falx cerebri and falx cerebelli, adjective - falciform.
  • fascia: Latin = band or bandage, hence the fibrous wrapping of muscles - deep fascia, or the subcutaneous layer of fatty connective tissue - superficial fascia, adjective, fascial.
  • fasciculus: diminutive of Latin fascis = bundle, hence, a bundle of nerve or muscle fibres.
  • fastigius: Latin fastigium = summit, hence the peak of the 4th ventricle, adjective - fastigial.
  • fauces: Latin = throat, adjective - faucial.
  • femur: Latin = thigh, adjective - femoral.
  • fetus: the developing mammal in utero; in Man, after the 2nd month in utero, adjective - foetal or fetal.
  • fibre: Latin fibra = a fibre, adjective, Latin fibrosus = fibrous.
  • fibril: diminutive of Latin fibra = a fibre.
  • fibula: Latin = brooch, which the tibia and fibula resemble, the fibula representing the movable pin, adjective - fibular.
  • filament: Latin filamentum = a delicate fibre, adjective - filamentous.
  • filum: Latin = a thread. Filum terminale - a thread of pia continuous with the lower end of the spinal cord.
  • fimbria: Latin = a fringe, hence, fimbria hippocampi, a scalloped band of fibres alongside the hippocampus.
  • fixator: Latin fixus = fixed, hence, a muscle which fixes a part.
  • flaccid: adjective, Latin flaccidus = weak or slack.
  • flavum: adjective, Latin flavus = yellow.
  • flex: Latin flexum = bent, hence, flexor, a muscle which bends a part of the body, and flexion = the act of flexing.
  • flexure: Latin flexura = a bending.
  • flocculus: diminutive of Latin floccus, a tuft. Hence resembling a picture of a little cloud, with a woolly top and a flat base, as in flocculus cerebelli.
  • foetus: the developing mammal in utero; in Man, after the 2nd month in utero, adjective - foetal or fetal.
  • folia: plural of Latin folium = leaf.
  • follicle: Latin folliculus = a little bag, adjective - follicular.
  • fontanelle: French diminutive of Latin fons = fountain, associated with the palpable pulsation of the brain in the anterior fontanelle of an infant.
  • forearm: the upper limb between the elbow and the wrist.
  • fornix: Latin = arch (hence fornication, because the Roman prostitutes plied their profession beneath the arches of the bridges over the river Tiber).
  • fossa: Latin = a ditch or trench, hence a concavity in bone, or an organ, or on a lining surface.
  • fovea: Latin = a pit (usually smaller than a fossa).
  • frenum: Latin = bridle or curb.
  • frontal: adjective, Latin frontis = of the forehead, or coronal.
  • fundiform: adjective, Latin fundus = bottom or base (cf. fundamental), hence, sling-shaped.
  • fundus: Latin = bottom or base. (But note that the fundus of the stomach and uterus are at the top, and the fundus of the eye and of the bladder are posterior!).
  • funiculus: diminutive of Latin funis = cord (used usually for bundles of nerve fibres).
  • fusiform: adjective, Latin fusus = spindle, hence, spindle-shaped.

G

  • galea: Latin = helmet, hence, galea aponeurotica - the aponeurosis of occipitofrontalis muscle.
  • galli: genetive (possessive case) of Latin = cock, hence, crista galli, the cock's comb.
  • gallus: Latin = cock, hence, crista galli, the cock's comb.
  • gamma: the 3rd letter of the Greek alphabet, typically used in a naming sequence - alpha, beta, gamma, delta, etc.
  • ganglion: Greek = swelling, referring to a peripheral collection of nerve cells, adjective - ganglionic.
  • gastric: Greek gaster = belly or stomach.
  • gastro: Greek gaster = belly or stomach.
  • gastrocnemius: Greek gaster = belly, and kneme = leg, hence, the bulging muscle of the calf.
  • gemellus: Latin diminutive of geminus = twin.
  • genial: adjective, Greek geneion = chin.
  • geniculate: Latin geniculare = to flex the knee, hence, a bent knee.
  • geniculum: Latin geniculare = to flex the knee, hence, a bent knee.
  • genital: adjective, Latin genitalis = reproductive, hence, genitalia, the sexual organs.
  • girdle: a ring of bones which may be complete or incomplete.
  • glabella: diminutive of Latin glaber = bald, hence a smooth bony prominence between the eyebrows.
  • gladiolus: diminutive of Latin gladius = a sword, hence, hance a small sword, term applied to the body of the sternum.
  • gland: Latin glans = an acorn, adjective - glandular; a secreting organ.
  • glandula: diminutive of Latin glans = acorn.
  • glenoid: adjective, Greek glene = socket, and eidos = shape or form.
  • glia: Greek = glue, hence, an adhesive connective tissue.
  • glomerulus: Latin glomerare = to roll up, from glomus = a ball of thread (cf. conglomeration).
  • glossal: adjective, Greek glossa = tongue.
  • glottic: adjective, Greek = larynx.
  • glottis: Greek = larynx, hence, the boundaries of rima glottidis.
  • gluteal: adjective, Greek gloutos = rump or buttock.
  • gluteus: Greek gluteos = rump or buttock. One of 3 muscles of the buttock, adjective - gluteal.
  • gonad: Greek = reproduction, hence a gland producing gametes - ovary or testis, adjective - gonadal.
  • gracile: adjective, Latin gracilis = slender.
  • gravid: adjective, Latin gravida = pregnant.
  • griseum: adjective, Latin griseus = bluish or pearly grey.
  • gubernaculum: Latin something which governs or directs, like a rudder (cf. gubernatorial).
  • gustatory: adjective, Latin gustatio = taste, hence, pertaining to the sense of taste.
  • gyrus: Greek gyros = circle, hence a coil of brain cortex.

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H

  • habenula: diminutive of Latin habena = rein.
  • haemorrhoid: Greek haima = blood, and rhoia = to flow, hence likely to bleed.
  • hallux: Latin hallex = great toe (hallucis = of the great toe).
  • hamate: adjective, Latin hamus = a hook, hence, hooked.
  • hamstrings: the tendons of the muscles of the ham - i.e. of the back of the thigh - felt behind the knee when the leg is flexed against resistance (semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris).
  • hamulus: diminutive of Latin hamus = hook.
  • helicotrema: Greek helix = a coil, and trema = hole, hence the aperture at the apex of the bony cochlea whereby scala vestibuli communicates with scala tympani.
  • hemianopia: Greek hemi = half, an = negative, opsis = vision, hence loss of half of the field of vision.
  • hemianopsia: Greek hemi = half, an = negative, opsis = vision, hence loss of half of the field of vision.
  • hemiparesis: Greek hemi = half, paresis = paralysis, used usually to denote weakness rather than paralysis.
  • hemiplegia: Greek hemi = half, plegia = stroke, hence, paralysis of one half of the body.
  • hemisphere: Greek hemi = half, sphaira = ball, hence, half of a sphere.
  • hepar: Greek = liver, adjective - hepatic.
  • hepatic: adjective, Greek hepar = the liver.
  • hernia: Latin = a protrusion, adjective - hernial.
  • hiatus: Latin = a gap (like that between some people's ears).
  • hilum: Latin = the point of attachment of a seed, hence the part of an organ where the vessels and nerves are attached; adjective - hilar.
  • hindbrain: the part of the brain below tentorium cerebelli, comprising medulla oblongata, pons and cerebellum.
  • hip: the lateral prominence of the hip bone and greater trochanter.
  • hippocampus: Greek hippokampos = a sea-horse, hence, the curled shape of the hippocampus in coronal section; adjective - hippocampal.
  • homologous: adjective, Greek homos = same, and logos = word, hence a part with similar morphology but different function.
  • horn: a projection, often pointed.
  • humour: Latin humor = liquid, hence the aqueous and vitreous humour of the eyeball.
  • hyaline: adjective, Greek hyalos = glassy.
  • hydrocephalus: Greek hydor = water, koilos = head. (cf. cephalic).
  • hymen: Greek = membrane; across the virginal vagina.
  • hyoid: adjective, Greek = U-shaped.
  • hyperacusis: Greek hyper = over, and akousis = hearing, hence excessive sensitivity to sound.
  • hypoglossal: adjective, Greek hypo = under, and glossa = tongue.
  • hypophysis: Greek hypo = down, physis = growth, hence, a downgrowth (from the brain). However, this is not the whole truth. Part is an upgrowth from the pharynx, adjective - hypophysial.
  • hypothalamus: Greek hypo = under, and thalamus (q.v.), refers to part of diencephalon.

I

  • ileum: Greek eilein = twisted. adjective - ileal.
  • ilium: Latin the bone of the flank, adjective - iliac.
  • ima: adjective, Latin = lowest, hence artery thyroidea ima.
  • incus: Latin = anvil, hence the anvil-shaped ossicle of the middle ear.
  • index: Latin = a pointer, hence, the fore-finger.
  • indicis: genitive of Latin index = a pointer, hence, of the fore-finger.
  • inferior: adjective, Latin = lower down, hence, farther from the head end.
  • inguinal: adjective, Latin inguen = groin.
  • inhibition: Latin inhibitus = restrained, hence, reduction of the excitability of a synapse.
  • innervate: Latin in = into, and nervus = nerve, hence, to supply a nerve to a part.
  • innominate: Lain in = not, and nomen = name, hence, without a name.
  • insert: Latin insertio = to join into, implant, hence, to attach; noun - insertion.
  • inspection: Latin inspectus = examined, hence, visual examination.
  • integument: Latin in = on, tegmen = roof, hence the skin coat.
  • intercalated: adjective, Latin inter = between, and calatum = inserted, hence interposed.
  • interdigitate: Latin inter = between, and digitus = a digit. Hence, to interlock like fingers.
  • internal: adjective, Latin internus = inward, hence, nearer the inside.
  • internuncial: adjective, Latin inter = between, nuncius = messenger.
  • interstitial: adjective, Latin inter = between, and sistum = set, hence, set between.
  • intestine: Latin intestinum = the digestive tube beyond the stomach.
  • intrafusal: adjective, Latin intra = within, fusus = spindle.
  • introitus: Latin intro = within, and ire = to go, hence, an orifice or point of entry to a cavity or space.
  • inversion: Lain in = in, and vertere = to turn, hence to turn inward, inside out, upside down.
  • ipsilateral: Latin ipsi = self, the same, and latus = side, hence on the same side.
  • iris: Latin = a rainbow.
  • ischium: Greek ischion = socket, because the ischium contributes more than either the ilium or pubis to the acetabulum.
  • iso: Greek = equal.
  • isthmus: Greek isthmos - a narrow passage.

J

  • jejunum: Latin jejunus = empty, adjective - jejunal.
  • joint: the meeting of 2 or more bones or cartilages, at which movement is possible.
  • jugular: adjective, Latin jugulum = neck.
  • jugum: Latin = yoke (cf. conjugal).

K

  • kinocilium: Greek kineo = to move (cf. kinetic), and cilium Latin = eyelash, hence protoplasmic thread of hair process in cupula of crista ampullaris of a semicircular duct.
  • knee: the junction of the thigh and the leg.
  • koniocortex: Greek konis = dust, and Latin cortex = bark, hence, sensory cortex containing mostly granular layers.
  • kyphosis: Greek kyphos = bent or bowed forward.

L

  • labium: Latin = lip (plural labia), adjective - labial.
  • labyrinth: Greek labyrinthos = maze, adjective - labyrinthine.
  • lacerum: Latin lacer = mangled, hence, lacerated, torn.
  • lacrimal: adjective, Latin lacrima = a tear (drop).
  • lactation: Latin lactans = suckling. Hence, the act of secreting milk.
  • lacteal: adjective, Latin lac = milk, hence, resembling milk.
  • lactic: adjective, Latin lac = milk.
  • lactiferous: adjective, Latin lac = milk, and ferre = to carry.
  • lacuna: Latin lacus = lake, hence, a small pond or gap, adjective, lacunar.
  • lambda: Greek letter representing a capital 'L' and written as an inverted V.
  • lambdoid: adjective, Greek lambda, representing a capital 'L' and written as an inverted V; hence, like that letter.
  • lamella: diminutive of Latin lamina = plate; hence, a small plate.
  • lamina: Latin = plate, either a layer of nervous tissue, like the laminae of the lateral geniculate body, or a connective tissue membrane, like lamina cribrosa sclerae, or of bone, as in vertebral laminae; hence, laminectomy = lamina + Greek ektome = excision - excision of the vertebral laminae to give access to the spinal cord; adjective - laminar.
  • lanugo: Latin lana = wool, hence, the fine downy hair on the skin of the foetus, or cheeks.
  • larynx: Greek = voice-box, adjective - laryngeal.
  • lata: Latin latus = side.
  • lateral: adjective, Latin latus = side, hence, nearer the side.
  • latissimus: superlative of adjective, Latin latus = wide, hence, latissimus dorsi muscle, the widest muscle of the back; earlier name was anitersor - wiper of the anus.
  • leg: the lower limb between the knee and the ankle.
  • lemniscus: Greek lemniskos = a band or ribbon (applied to nerve fibres).
  • lens: Latin = lentil - a transparent body with one or both surfaces curved to re-direct light rays, adjective - lentiform or lenticular.
  • lentiform: adjective, Latin lens = lentil, and forma = shape, hence, lentil-shaped.
  • leptomeninx: Greek lepto = delicate, and meninx = membrane. Usually refers to pia and arachnoid. Plural leptomeninges.
  • lien: Latin = spleen, adjective - lienal.
  • ligament: Latin ligamentum = bandage, usually tying parts to each other, adjective - ligamentous.
  • limbic: adjective, Latin limbus = a margin, usually curved.
  • limbus: Latin = a margin, usually curved, hence, limbus of cornea, its circular junction with the sclera, adjective - limbic; limbic lobe of the brain comprises structures which encircle the junction of the diencephalon and telencephalon.
  • limen: Latin = a threshold, hence, subliminal - below threshold.
  • lingua: Latin = tongue, adjective, lingual.
  • lingula: diminutive of lingua, hence, a little tongue, adjective - lingular.
  • lissencephalic: adjective, Greek lissos = smooth, hence, a cerebrum lacking sulci.
  • lobulus: Latin diminutive of lobus, hence, a lobule.
  • lobus: Greek lobos = lobe, adjective - lobar.
  • locus: Latin a place (cf. location, locate, dislocate).
  • loin: Latin lumbus - the part of the back between the ribs and the hip bone.
  • longissimus: superlative of Latin longus = long, hence, the longest.
  • longitudinal: adjective, Latin longitudo = length, hence, lengthwise.
  • longus: adjective, Latin = long, hence, longissimus (superlative) = the longest.
  • lumbrical: Latin lumbricus = worm, hence worm-shaped muscles of the palm.
  • lumen: Latin = opening, hence the space within a tube.
  • lunate: adjective, Latin luna = moon, hence, crescentic.
  • luteum: adjective, Latin = yellow.
  • lymph: Latin lympha - clear spring water.

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M

  • macroscopic: adjective, Greek makros = large, and skopein = to examine; hence, large enough to be seen with the naked eye, e.g., pertaining to gross anatomy.
  • macula: Latin = spot (cf. immaculate - spotless); adjective - macular.
  • malleolus: diminutive of Latin malleus = hammer, adjective - malleolar.
  • mamma: Latin = breast; adjective - mammary.
  • mammilla: diminutive of mamma; adjective - mammillary.
  • mandible: Latin mandere = to chew; hence, the movable lower jaw; adjective - mandibular.
  • manubrium: Latin = handle; adjective - manubrial.
  • manus: Latin = hand (cf. manual).
  • margin: the edge or border of a surface; adjective - marginal.
  • masseter: Greek = chewer; adjective - masseteric.
  • mastoid: adjective, Greek mastos = breast or teat, and eidos = shape or form.
  • matrix: Latin = a female animal used for breeding, womb; refers to ground substance of connective tissue, and nail bed.
  • maxilla: Latin = jaw-bone; now used only for the upper jaw; adjective - maxillary.
  • meatus: Latin = passage; adjective - meatal.
  • medial: adjective, Latin medius = middle; hence, nearer the median plane.
  • median: Latin medianus = in the middle.
  • mediastinum: derivation doubtful, but possibly from Latin medius = middle, and stans = standing; hence, a median vertical partition, adjective - mediastinal.
  • medulla: Latin = marrow; applied to part of an organ deep to its cortex, and to the spinal cord and adjoining part of brain stem, which may have been thought to be the marrow of the vertebral column, adjective - medullary pertains to the medulla of an organ or medulla oblongata.
  • membrane: Latin membrana = a thin sheet; adjective - membranous.
  • meninges: plural of Greek meninx = a membrane; adjective - meningeal.
  • meniscus: Latin menis - a small crescent.
  • mental: adjective - Latin mentum = chin; or Latin mens = mind.
  • mesencephalon: Greek mesos = middle, and enkephalos = brain; adjective - mesencephalic.
  • mesenchyme: Greek mesos = middle, and chymos = juice; the embryonic connective tissue of the mesoderm.
  • mesentery: Greek mesos = middle, and enteron = intestine; hence, the peritoneal fold which tethers the centrally situated small intestine; adjective - mesenteric.
  • mesial: adjective - medial, used in dental anatomy.
  • mesoderm: Greek mesos = middle, and derma = skin; the middle germ layer of the embryo.
  • mesosalpinx: Greek mesos = middle, and salpinx = tube; hence, the intermediate part of the broad ligament.
  • metacarpus: Greek meta = after, and karpus = wrist; adjective - metacarpal.
  • metaphysis: Greek meta = after, and physis = growth; hence, the end of the shaft of a bone alongside the epiphysial or growth cartilage; adjective - metaphysial.
  • metatarsus: Greek meta = after, and tarsos = ankle; hence, the bones beyond the tarsus, adjective - metatarsal.
  • metencephalon: Greek meta = beside, behind, or after, and enkephalos = brain; hence the parts of the hindbrain immediately caudal to the fore- and midbrain, namely the pons and cerebellum.
  • metopic: adjective, Greek metopon = forehead.
  • micturition: Latin micturare = to desire to pass urine.
  • miosis: Greek meiosis = lessening; hence, pupillary constriction; adjective - miotic.
  • modality: Latin modus = mode; hence, a form of sensation - e.g. touch, pain, sight.
  • modiolus: Latin a cylindrical borer with a serrated edge; hence, like a screw; the central stem of the bony cochlea.
  • molar: adjective, Latin mola = mill.
  • mons: Latin = mountain; mons pubis, the soft tissue bulge over the female pubes.
  • morphology: Greek morphos = form, and logos = word or relation; hence, study of pattern of structure; adjective - morphological.
  • multifidus: Latin multus = much, and findere = to split.
  • muscle: Latin musculus, diminutive of Greek mus = mouse, the body and head of which represent the main belly of a muscle, and the tail, the tendon.
  • myelencephalon: Greek myelos = marrow (= Latin medulla), and enkephalos = brain; hence the medulla oblongata. See also medulla.
  • myelin: Greek myelos = marrow; hence, white fatty sheath of an axis cylinder; adjective - myelinated.
  • myenteric: Greek mys = muscle, and enteron = intestine, hence, pertaining to the muscle of the gut.
  • mylohyoid: Greek mylo = molar, and hyoeides = U-shaped.
  • myocardium: Greek mys = muscle, and kardia = heart, adjective - myocardial.
  • myotome: Greek mys = muscle, and tome = a cutting or division; hence, a group of muscles innervated by a single spinal segment.

N

  • nares: plural, Latin naris = nostril.
  • naris: Latin = nostril, plural - nares.
  • nasal: adjective, Latin nasus = nose; hence, pertaining to the nose.
  • natal: adjective, Latin natus = born; hence, relating to birth.
  • navicular: adjective, Latin navicula = a little ship (cf. naval); hence, the tarsal bone which is concave posteriorly, resembling a boat.
  • neo-: Greek prefix - neos = new.
  • neonatal: adjective, Greek neos = new, and Latin natos = born; hence, new-born.
  • neopallium: Greek neos = new, and Latin pallium = cloak; hence, the cerebral cortex which developed more recently than the archipallium or olfactory cortex.
  • nerve: Latin nervus = tendon; later reserved for a peripheral bundle of fibres which conduct impulses from or to the central nervous system.
  • neural: adjective, Greek neuron = nerve.
  • neuroglia: Greek neuron = nerve, and gloia = glue; hence, the connective tissue of the central nervous system; adjective - neuroglial.
  • neurohypophysis: or posterior lobe of hypophysis - Greek hypo = down, and physis = growth; hence, the posterior part of the hypophysis evaginated downwards from the diencephalon, and its stalk.
  • neurolemma: Greek neuron = nerve, and lemma = peel or rind; hence, the covering layer of a nerve.
  • neuron: Greek = nerve; refers to the nerve cell body, with its axon and dendrites; adjective - neuronal.
  • nigra: Latin niger = black, dark.
  • node: Latin nodus = knot.
  • nodule: diminutive of Latin nodus = knot, hence, a little knot.
  • norma: Latin = pattern or rule, or aspect; adjective, normal - according to rule.
  • notch: an indentation in the margin of a structure. Etymology uncertain.
  • notochord: Greek notos = back, and chorde = cord; hence, the primitive axial skeleton around which the vertebrae develop, parts persisting in the nuclei pulposi.
  • nucha: French nuque = nape or back of the neck; adjective - nuchal.
  • nucleus: Latin = kernel or nut; may refer to the vital centre of a cell body, or to a cluster of neuron cells in the central nervous system; adjective - nuclear.
  • nystagmus: Greek = drowsiness, to nod, hence, involuntary, rapid, rhythmic eye movements.

O

  • obex: Latin = barrier; hence, the coronal fold of ependyma over the lower angle of the 4th ventricle.
  • oblique: adjective, Latin obliquus; slanting, or deviating from the perpendicular or the horizontal.
  • oblongata: Latin oblongus = oblong; medulla oblongata.
  • obturator: Latin obturatus = stopped up; hence, a structure which closes a hole.
  • occiput: Latin ob = prominent (cf. obvious), and caput = head; hence, the prominent convexity of the back of the head; adjective - occipital.
  • occlusion: Latin occlusum = closed up; hence, apposition of reciprocal teeth, or the blocking of any tubular structure; adjective - occlusal.
  • oculomotor: Latin oculus = eye, and movere = to move, hence, pertaining to moving the eye.
  • odontoid: Greek odous = tooth, and eidos = form, shape, hence, tooth-like.
  • oesophagus: Greek = gullet (passage from pharynx to stomach); adjective - oesophageal.
  • olecranon: Greek olene = ulna, and kranion = upper part of head; hence, the upper end of the ulna.
  • olive: Latin oliva - the oval fruit of the olive tree; oval eminence on medulla oblongata; adjective - olivary.
  • omentum: Latin = apron; adjective - omental.
  • omohyoid: Greek omos = shoulder; hence, a muscle attached to the scapula and hyoid.
  • operculum: Latin = lid or cover; hence, operculum insulae, the cerebral cortex covering and hiding the insula (the 5th lobe of cerebral cortex).
  • opponens: Latin = placing against, opposing.
  • oppose: Latin oppositum = put against; hence, to resist or place in contact with, and opposition - the action of opposing.
  • optic: adjective, Greek optos = seen; hence, pertaining to sight.
  • ora: Latin ora = margin or edge.
  • ora serrata: Latin ora = margin, and serra = saw; hence, the serrated anterior edge of the functional part of the retina.
  • oral: Latin oris = a mouth, hence, pertaining to the mouth.
  • orbit: Latin orbis = circle; the name given to the bony socket in which the eyeball rotates; adjective - orbital.
  • orifice: Latin orificium = opening.
  • os, oris: Latin os = mouth; plural - ora, adjective - oral.
  • os, ossis: Latin os = bone; plural - ossa, adjective - osseous.
  • ossicle: Latin ossiculus, diminutive of os = bone.
  • ossify: Latin os = bone, and facio = make; hence, to form bone; and ossification, the process of bone formation.
  • osteology: Greek osteon = bone, and logy = a field of study.
  • ostium: Latin = a door, an opening, an orifice.
  • otic: adjective, Greek otos = ear.
  • otolith: Greek otos = ear, and lithos = stone; hence, calcareous particles in the utricle and saccule of the membranous labyrinth.
  • ovary: Latin ovum = egg; hence, the organ containing ova (the largest cells in the female).
  • ovum: Latin = egg, plural - ova.

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P

  • pachymeninx: Greek pachys = thick, and meninx = membrane; hence, the thick membrane covering the central nervous system, i.e., dura mater.
  • palaeo: Greek palaios = old; hence, palaeocerebellum, the earliest stage in the evolution of the cerebellum.
  • palate: Latin palatum = palate, adjective - palatal or palatine.
  • paleo: Greek palaios = old; hence, paleocerebellum, the earliest stage in the evolution of the cerebellum.
  • pallium: Latin = cloak; hence, the cerebral cortex forming the outer covering of the cerebral hemisphere.
  • palma: Latin palma = palm; adjective, palmar - Latin palmaris.
  • palpate: Latin palpare = to touch, and palpatus = touched; hence, to examine by feeling, and palpation, such an examination.
  • palpebra: Latin = eyelid, probably from palpitare = to flutter.
  • pampiniform: adjective, Latin pampinus = tendril, and forma = shape.
  • pancreas: Greek = sweetbread, derived from Greek pan = all, and kreas = flesh; adjective - pancreatic.
  • papilla: Latin = nipple or teat; adjective - papillary.
  • paradidymis: Greek para = beside of near, and didymis = twinned or paired, refers to testes; hence the collection of convoluted tubules in the spermatic cord, above the head of the epididymis.
  • paraesthesia: Greek para = beside, and aisthesia = sensation; hence, abnormal sensation, usually burning or pricking.
  • paralysis: Greek para = beside, near, lyein = to loosen; hence loss or impairment of muscle function.
  • parametrium: Greek para = beside, and metra = womb; hence, connective tissue alongside the body of the uterus, within the broad ligament.
  • paraplegia: Greek para = beside, and plege = a stroke; hence, paralysis of the lower limbs.
  • pararenal: adjective, Greek para = beside, Latin ren = kidney; hence, beside the kidney, e.g., pararenal fat, the fatty capsule of the kidney.
  • parasternal: adjective, Greek para = beside, and sternon = chest; hence, the parasternal line is a vertical line about midway between the sternal edge and the midclavicular line.
  • parasympathetic: adjective, Greek para = beside, syn = with, and pathos = feeling; hence, the division of the autonomic nervous system complementary to the sympathetic system.
  • parathyroid: adjective, Greek para = beside, and thyroid; hence, beside the thyroid gland.
  • parenchyma: Greek para = beside or near, en = in, and chein = to pour; hence a general term to designate the functional elements of an organ, as opposed to the framework or stroma.
  • paresis: Greek = relaxation, but has come to mean partial paralysis.
  • parietal: adjective, Latin parietalis, pertaining to paries = wall.
  • parotid: adjective, Greek para = beside, and otos = of the ear; hence, beside the ear.
  • parous: adjective, Latin pario = I bear (children); hence, adjective, applied to woman who has borne one or more children (cf. nulliparous, multiparous).
  • patella: Latin a small pan; adjective - patellar.
  • pectinate: adjective, from Latin pecten = a comb; applied to structures having the appearance of parallel teeth arising from a straight back (musculi pectinati), or the sellar appearance of the superior pubic ramus, which may have resembled the body of antique combs.
  • pectineal: adjective, from Latin pecten = a comb; applied to structures having the appearance of parallel teeth arising from a straight back (musculi pectinati), or the sellar appearance of the superior pubic ramus, which may have resembled the body of antique combs.
  • pectineus: Latin, pecten = a comb; hence the muscle attaching to the pecten (pectineal line) of the pubic bone.
  • pectoral: adjective, Latin pectoris = of the front of the chest.
  • pectoralis: adjective, Latin pectoris = of the front of the chest.
  • pedicle: diminutive of Latin pedis = of the foot.
  • pedis: Latin = of the foot.
  • pellucidum: adjective, Latin per = through, and lucere - to shine; hence, translucent.
  • pelvis: Latin = basin, adjective - pelvic.
  • penis: Latin = tail, the male organ of copulation (cf. appendix, appendage).
  • pennate: Latin penna = feather; hence, a muscle whose fibres approach the tendon from one direction is unipennate; from two, bipennate, and from more than two, multipennate.
  • pennatus: (pinnate) - adjective, Latin penna = feather; hence, a muscle whose fibres approach the tendon from one direction is unipennate; from two, bipennate, and from more than two, multipennate.
  • perianal: adjective, Greek peri = around, and Latin anus = lower opening of alimentary canal.
  • pericardium: Greek peri = around, and kardia = heart; hence, the membranes enclosing the heart.
  • perichondrium: Greek peri = around, and chondros = cartilage; hence, the membrane covering cartilage.
  • pericranium: Greek peri = around, and kranion = skull; hence, the external periosteum of the skull.
  • perilymph: Greek peri = around, and lympha - Latin = clear water; hence, the fluid in the bony labyrinth surrounding the membranous labyrinth (and continuous with the cerebrospinal fluid).
  • perineum: Greek the caudal aspect of the trunk between the thighs, or, the region of the trunk below the pelvic diaphragm; adjective - perineal.
  • periodontal: adjective, Greek peri = around, and odont = tooth.
  • periosteum: Greek peri = around, and osteon = bone; hence, the membrane around a bone.
  • peripheral: adjective, Greek peri = around and phero = carry; hence, away from the centre (cf. periphery).
  • peristalsis: Greek peri = around, and stellein - to constrict; hence, a circular constriction passing as a wave along a tube; adjective - peristaltic.
  • peritoneum: Greek periteino = to stretch around; hence, the membrane stretched around the internal surface of the walls and the external aspect of some of the contents of the abdomen; adjective - peritoneal.
  • peroneal: adjective, Greek perone = clasp, brooch - see fibula.
  • pes: Latin = foot.
  • petrosal: adjective, Latin petrosus = rocky.
  • petrous: adjective, Latin petrosus = rocky.
  • phalanx: Latin = row of soldiers; hence, one of the small bones of a digit, plural - phalanges, adjective - phalangeal.
  • pharynx: Greek = throat; adjective - pharyngeal.
  • philtrum: Greek philtron - the median sulcus of the upper lip. Derivation doubtful.
  • phonation: Greek phone = sound or voice; hence, the production of either.
  • phrenic: Greek phren = diaphragm or mind; hence, diaphragmatic (cf. schizophrenic).
  • pia: Latin = faithful, hence, the membrane which faithfully follows the contour of the brain and spinal cord.
  • pilomotor: Latin pilus = a hair, and movere = to move; hence the action of the arrectores pilorum muscles.
  • pineal: adjective, Latin pinea = a pine cone; hence, the pineal gland which is cone-shaped.
  • piriform: adjective, Latin pirum = a pear; hence, pear-shaped.
  • pisiform: adjective, Latin pisum = a pea; hence, pea-shaped.
  • pituitary: Latin pituita = mucous or phlegm, the gland was thought to produce mucous that discharged through the nose.
  • placode: Greek plax = plate or flat, and eidos = shape or form.
  • plane: Latin planus = flat; hence, a real or imaginary flat surface.
  • planta: Latin the sole of the foot; adjective - plantar or plantaris.
  • plantar: adjective, Latin planta = the sole of the foot.
  • platysma: Greek = flat object; hence, the flat subcutaneous muscle extending from below the clavicle to the mouth.
  • pleura: Greek = a rib. Later used to name the serous membrane lining the chest walls and the lung on each side.
  • plexus: Latin = a network or plait.
  • plica: Latin plicare = to fold; hence, a fold.
  • pollicis: genitive (possessive case) of Latin pollex = thumb; hence of the thumb.
  • pons: Latin = bridge; adjective - pontine; part of the brain stem.
  • popliteus: Latin poples = the ham or thigh, and sometimes, the knee; adjective, popliteal, referring to the fossa behind the knee or its contents.
  • porta: Latin = a gate, also Latin portare = to carry; hence, the portal system carries venous blood from the alimentary tract to the porta hepatis; adjective - portal.
  • porus: Latin a pore or foramen; hence, the openings of the acoustic meatuses.
  • posterior: adjective, Latin post = behind (in place or time).
  • posture: Latin positus = placed; hence, the position of the body as a whole at a given moment, e.g. erect, recumbent, prone, supine, sitting, kneeling.
  • precuneus: Latin pre = before, and cuneus = wedge; hence, the parietal lobule anterior to the cuneus.
  • prepuce: Latin praeputium = foreskin (of penis or clitoris).
  • princeps: Latin primus = chief, and capere = to take; hence chief or principal.
  • procerus: Latin = slender, elongated; hence, the vertical slip of muscle between the medial part of frontalis and the root of the nose.
  • process: Latin = going forwards, used to indicate growing out, i.e., an outgrowth, usually of bone, e.g., the zygomatic process of the temporal.
  • processus: Latin going forwards, used to indicate growing out, i.e., an outgrowth, usually of bone, e.g., the zygomatic process of the temporal.
  • profundus: Latin pro = before, and fundus = bottom; hence profundus = deep.
  • promontory: Latin promontorium = a headland, i.e., part of land jutting into the sea - used for a bony prominence.
  • pronate: Latin pronatus = bent forwards; hence to pronate = to turn the hand so that the palm faces posteriorly.
  • prone: Latin pronatus = bent forwards; hence, recumbent face-down posture.
  • proprioceptive: Latin proprius = one's own, and captum = taken; hence, sensory impulses received by the joints and muscles within one's own body.
  • prosection: Latin pro = before, and sectum = cut. A dissection prepared for demonstration of anatomic structures.
  • prosector: Latin pro = before, and sectum = cut. One who prepares a dissection for demonstration.
  • prosencephalon: Latin pro = in front, and Greek enkephalos = brain; hence, the part of the brain rostral to the midbrain.
  • prostate: Greek pro = before, and Latin = statum = stood; hence, something which stands before - the prostate stands before the urinary bladder.
  • protract: Latin protractus = drawn out; hence, to put forwards (e.g., shoulder or mandible). Protraction - the act of protracting.
  • protrude: Latin protrudo = thrust forwards, e.g. the tongue; protrusion - the act of protruding.
  • protuberance: Latin protubero = I bulge out; hence, a bulging bony feature (see tuber).
  • proximal: adjective, Latin proxime = nearest; hence, nearer to the root of a limb.
  • pterion: Greek pteron = wing; hence, the region where the tip of the greater wing of the sphenoid meets or is close to the parietal, separating the frontal from the squamous temporal; alternatively the region where these 4 bones meet.
  • pterygoid: adjective, Greek pteryx = wing, and eidos = shape; hence, wing-shaped.
  • ptosis: Greek = fall; hence, drooping of an eyelid, or descent of an internal organ.
  • puberty: Latin puber = adult; hence, the time when hair appears in the pubic region - i.e., near the pubis - as a secondary sexual characteristic.
  • pubes: Latin = adult or signs of manhood, hence the lower abdominal secondary sexual hair.
  • pubis: Latin pubes (see pubes)
  • pudendal: adjective, Latin pudendus = shameful; hence, pertaining to the external genitalia.
  • pulp: Latin pulpa = a soft part of the body or tooth.
  • pulposus: Latin pulpa = a soft part of the body or tooth, hence pulpy or soft.
  • pulvinar: Latin pulvinus = rounded cushion; the posterior end of the thalamus.
  • punctum: Latin = a sharp point; hence a very small point or orifice.
  • pupil: Latin pupilla = the central black orifice in the iris; adjective - pupillary.
  • putamen: Latin = peel, husk or shell of fruit or seed (the external part of the lentiform nucleus).
  • pyelogram: Greek pyelos = basin, and gramma = diagram; hence, radiograph of the renal pelvis (and usually of the ureter) after filling with contrast medium.
  • pylorus: Greek = gate-keeper; hence, the part of the pyloric canal containing the sphincter, which guards the opening into the duodenum; adjective - pyloric.
  • pyramid: Greek pyramis = a pyramid (solid with 3- or more-sided base, and flat sides meeting at the apex), adjective - pyramidal.

Q

  • quadrangular: Latin quadri = four and angulus = angle; hence square or rectangular.
  • quadriceps: Latin quadri = four, and caput = head; hence, a 4-headed muscle.
  • quadrigeminus: Latin quadri = four, and gemini = paired or twinned; hence four-fold.

R

  • radiation: Latin radiatus = radiant; hence, divergence from a common centre (cf. radius).
  • radicle: diminutive of Latin radix = root; hence a small root, adjective - radicular.
  • radius: Latin = spoke of a wheel, which rotates around the hub; hence, the lateral bone of the forearm, which rotates (though around an almost vertical axis); adjective - radial.
  • ramify: Latin ramus = a branch; and facere = to make; hence, to branch.
  • ramus: Latin = branch; hence, a branch of a nerve.
  • raphe: Greek a seam; hence, the line of junction of the edges of 2 muscles or areas of skin.
  • recess: Latin recessus = a secluded area or pocket; hence, a small cavity set apart from a main cavity.
  • rectum: adjective, Latin rectus = straight. (The rectum was named in animals where it is straight - which it is not in Man).
  • rectus: Latin rectus = straight.
  • recurrent: Latin re = back, and currere = to run; hence a structure that bends, and runs back toward its source.
  • reflex: an involuntary response - muscular or secretory - to a stimulus mediated by the central nervous system.
  • renal: adjective, Latin ren = kidney.
  • rete: Latin = a net; hence, a network of veins or tubules.
  • reticular: adjective, Latin reticulum = small net; hence having a network.
  • reticulum: diminutive of Latin rete = net; adjective - reticular.
  • retina: derivation uncertain - the innermost of the 3 layers of the eyeball.
  • retinaculum: Latin = a tether; hence, a thickened band of deep fascia which retains tendons or the patella.
  • retract: Latin re = back, and tractum = pulled; hence, to pull something back, and retraction - the act of retracting.
  • retro: prefix - Latin = backwards.
  • retroflexion: Latin retro = backwards, and flexion = bent; hence, the position of being bent backwards, applied to the angulation of the body of the uterus on the cervix.
  • retroversion: Latin retro = backwards, and version = turned; hence, the position of being turned backwards, applied to the angulation of the cervix uteri on the vagina.
  • rhinencephalon: Greek rhinion = nostril, and enkephalos = brain; hence, the part of the brain concerned with smell (relatively large in lower animals).
  • rhombencephalon: Greek rhombos = rhomboid, and enkephalos = brain; hence, the hind-brain - the medulla oblongata, pons and cerebellum, which enclose the rhomboid fossa (the floor of the 4th ventricle).
  • rhomboid: Greek rhombus = a figure with 4 equal sides, not at right angles, and eidos = shape or form, hence, the shape of a rhombus.
  • rima: Latin = chink; hence, e.g., rima palpebrarum = the chink between the free edges of the eyelids.
  • risorius: Latin risor = scoffer; hence, muscle risorius is the facial muscle which expresses laughter by drawing the corner of the mouth laterally.
  • rostral: adjective, Latin rostrum = beak, implying nearness to the corpus callosum.
  • rostrum: Latin beak, which decorated the Roman orator's platform; hence, a platform or beak-like structure; adjective - rostral.
  • rotate: Latin rota = wheel; hence, to turn, and rotation, the act of turning.
  • rubro: prefix, Latin rubrum = red.
  • ruga: Latin = a wrinkle.
  • rugose: adjective, Latin ruga = a wrinkle, hence, wrinkled.

Table of contents:

.A | .B | .C | .D | .E | .F | .G | .H | .I | .J | .K | .L | .M

.N | .O | .P | .Q | .R | .S | .T | .U | .V | .W | .X | .Y | .Z

S

  • sac: Latin saccus = a sack.
  • saccule: Latin sacculus, diminutive of saccus.
  • sacrum: Latin os sacrum = sacred, via Greek hieron osteon = sacred bone. Called so either because the sacrum was the part of an animal offered in sacrifice or because of the belief that the soul of the man resides there. A different origin is suggested by an alternate translation of the heron, which can also mean �strong,' and that the Latin stems from a mistranslation of Galen, who was calling it 'the strong bone.'
  • sagittal: adjective, Latin sagitta = arrow, because the sagittal suture is notched posteriorly, like an arrow, by the lambdoid sutures.
  • salivary: adjective, Latin saliva = spit.
  • salpinx: Greek = trumpet; hence, the uterine or auditory tube, each of which is trumpet-shaped.
  • saphenous: adjective, Greek saphenes = obviously visible. The saphenous veins become very apparent when varicose.
  • sartorius: Latin = tailor; hence, sartorius muscles, which produce the posture in which tailors once worked, squatting on the floor.
  • scala: Latin = stairs; hence the parallel spiral passages which wind up to, or down from, the cupula of the bony cochlea.
  • scalene: adjective, Greek skalenos = uneven, hence a triangle with unequal sides, an apt description of the shape of scalenus anterior and scalenus medius muscles.
  • scalenus: adjective, Greek skalenos = uneven, hence a triangle with unequal sides, an apt description of the shape of scalenus anterior and scalenus medius muscles.
  • scaphoid: adjective, Greek skaphe = skiff, and eidos = shape or form; hence the carpal which is hollowed out on its distal surface for the head of the capitate; also the fossa occupied by tensor veli palatini muscle.
  • scapula: Greek skapto = I dig, because of the resemblance to a spade.
  • sciatic: adjective, Greek ischion = hip-joint. Ischiadikos meant pertaining to the ischium or hip - later changed to sciatic. (The ischium earns its name because it forms > 2/5 of the acetabulum, whereas the ilium contributes < 2/5, and the pubis only 1/5). The sciatic nerve lies on the ischium.
  • sclera: Greek skleros = hard; hence the tough, outer layer of the eyeball; adjective - scleral.
  • sclerotome: Greek skleros = hard, and tome = a cutting.
  • scoliosis: Greek skolios = crooked or curve, and -osis = condition, hence, the lateral curvature of the spine.
  • scrotum: possibly derived from Latin scorteus = leather; adjective - scrotal.
  • secrete: Latin secretus = separated; hence, to produce a chemical substance by glandular activity - adjective, secretory; noun, secretion.
  • sella: Latin = saddle; adjective - sellar, sella turcica = Turkish saddle.
  • semen: Latin = seed; adjective - seminal (seminal vesicle).
  • semilunaris: adjective, Latin semi = half, and luna = moon; hence, having a half-moon shape.
  • semimembranosus: adjective, Latin semi = half, and membrana = membrane; hence, the hamstring muscle of which the upper half is membranous.
  • seminiferous: Latin semen = seed and ferre = to carry, to bear; hence, the sperm-producing tubules in the testes.
  • semitendinosus: adjective, Latin semi = half, and tendo = I stretch; hence, the hamstring muscle of which the lower half is tendinous.
  • septum: Latin saeptum = fenced in; hence, a dividing fence or partition.
  • serratus: adjective, Latin = notched like the edge of a saw (serrate).
  • sesamoid: adjective, Greek sesamodes, eidos = shape or form; like grains of sesame, hence, small bone in tendon at site of friction.
  • sialogram: Greek sialon = saliva, and gramma = a diagram; hence, a radiograph of a salivary duct.
  • sigmoid: adjective, Greek sigma, the form used at the end of a word having an S-shape; hence, S-shaped.
  • sinister: adjective, Latin = left-sided.
  • sinus: Latin = a hollow or space which may contain air, venous or arterial blood, lymph or serous fluid; adjective, sinusoid.
  • sole: the lower surface of the foot - see soleus.
  • soleus: adjective, Latin solea = flatfish or sandal; hence soleus muscle which does not enter the sole of the foot, but resembles the fish.
  • soma: Greek = the body.
  • somatic: adjective, Greek soma = the body; hence, pertaining to the body frame but not to its viscera.
  • somite: Greek soma = body, hence an embryonic body segment.
  • spasm: Greek spasmos = an involuntary contraction of a muscle; adjective - spastic, or spasmodic.
  • sperma: Greek = seed or semen, adjective, spermatic.
  • sphenoid: adjective, Greek sphen = wedge, and eidos = shape or form; hence the unpaired bone which is wedged into the base of the skull between the unpaired frontal and occipital.
  • sphincter: Greek sphinkter = a tight binder; hence, a circular muscle which closes an orifice; adjective - sphincteric.
  • spine: Latin spina = a thorn; hence, a sharp process, or a lay term for the vertebral column; adjective, spinous, spinal.
  • splanchnic: adjective, Greek splanchnon = a viscus or internal organ; hence pertaining to viscera.
  • spleen: Latin splen = the spleen; hence; adjective - splenic (Latin - lien).
  • splenium: Greek splenion = a bandage. The splenium of corpus callosum resembles a partly rolled bandage.
  • splenius: Greek splenion = a bandage. Hence, splenius capitis muscle, with its finely-woven fibres and its quarter-spiral twist from a coronal to a sagittal plane.
  • squama: Latin = a scale (as of fish or reptile); adjective - squamous.
  • squamous: adjective, Latin squama = a scale (as of fish or reptile), hence scale-like.
  • stapes: Latin = stirrup; adjective - stapedial, stapedius.
  • stellate: adjective, Latin stella = star.
  • stereocilia: Greek stereos = solid, and cilium = eyelash, hence non-motile microvilli.
  • sternebra: Greek sternon = chest or breast, and -bra = from vertebra, hence the segments of the sternum that fuse in later life.
  • sternum: Greek sternon = chest or breast; adjective, sternal.
  • stomach: Greek stomachos = gullet or oesophagus, later applied to the wider part of the digestive tract just below the diaphragm; adjective - gastric.
  • strabismus: Greek strabismos = squinting; hence, inability to focus both eyes on a given point.
  • stratum: Latin = a covering sheet, or layer.
  • stria: Latin = furrow, applied to a streak or stripe.
  • striatum: adjective, Latin striatus = furrowed; hence, corpus striatum, the caudate and lentiform nuclei connected by grey strands which traverse the internal capsule, giving the strands a striated appearance.
  • stroma: Greek = bed or mattress, deep to the covers; hence, the supporting framework of an organ, as distinct from its special parenchyma.
  • styloid: adjective, Greek stylos = an instrument for writing, and eidos = shape or form; hence a pen- or pencil-like structure.
  • subclavian: Latin sub = under or below, and clavis = a key, hence under the clavicle.
  • subiculum: diminutive of Latin subix = a support.
  • succus: Latin = juice (succus entericus, the secretion of the small intestine).
  • sudomotor: Latin sudor = sweat, and movere = to move, hence stimulating the sweat glands.
  • superciliary: adjective, Latin super = above, and cilia = eyelid; hence, pertaining to the eyebrow.
  • superficial: adjective, Latin super = above, and facies = surface; hence, nearer the surface.
  • superior: adjective, comparative of Latin superus = above.
  • supination: the act of turning the back of the hand to face posteriorly; verb - supinate.
  • supine: adjective, Latin supinus, recumbent on the back. Hence, also, the position of the hand with the dorsum facing posteriorly.
  • supra: Latin prefix = superior to.
  • suprarenal: Latin supra = above, over, superior to, and ren = the kidney.
  • sural: adjective, Latin sura = the calf.
  • sustentaculum: Latin = a support, which sustains; sustentaculum tali - the ledge on the calcaneus supporting part of the talus.
  • suture: Latin sutura = a seam; the fibrous joints between cranial bones.
  • sympathetic: Greek syn = with, and pathos = feeling; hence, the peripheral part of the autonomic nervous system which arises in the thoracolumbar region of the spinal cord and communicates with other nerves.
  • symphysis: Greek syn = with, and physis = growth; hence a joint where union between the bones is by fibrocartilage - used for median joints. (Symphysis of the mandible is exceptional, the 2 halves fusing before the age of 2).
  • synapse: Greek syn = with, and aptein = to join; hence, the zone through which an impulse passes from one neuron to another.
  • synchondrosis: Greek syn = with, and chondros = cartilage; hence, the union of 2 bones by cartilage.
  • syncytium: Greek syn = with, and kytos = cell, hence a multinucleate mass of protoplasm, formed by the merging of cells.
  • syndesmosis: Greek syn = with, and desmos = a band; hence, the union of 2 bones by fibrous tissue.
  • syndrome: Greek syn = with, and dromos = running; hence, a group of signs and symptoms which is characteristic of a certain pathology.
  • synergist: Greek syn = with, and ergon = work; hence a muscle which cooperates with others in producing a given movement.
  • synovia: Greek syn = with, and ovum = egg; hence the fluid in freely movable joints resembling egg-white; adjective, synovial.
  • synovial: adjective, Greek syn = with, and ovum = egg; hence pertaining to the fluid in freely movable joints resembling egg-white.
  • systole: Greek = contraction; hence the contraction of cardiac muscle.

T

  • taenia: Latin = a tape or ribbon.
  • talus: Latin = ankle-bone; hence, the tortoise-shaped tarsal of the talocrural (ankle) joint.
  • tapetum: Latin = a carpet or coverlet; hence the roof of the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle.
  • tarsus: Greek tarsos = a flat surface; hence the flat part of the foot, and later, the bones of the foot behind the metatarsals, adjective, tarsal.
  • tectorial: adjective, Latin tectorium = an overlying surface like plaster, a covering or roof.
  • tectum: Latin = roof; hence the roof of the midbrain.
  • tegmen: Latin = covering (cf. integument = the skin).
  • tela: Latin = a web; e.g., a fold of pia mater containing a choroid plexus.
  • telencephalon: Greek telos = end, and enkephalos = brain; hence the rostral part of the developing brain. (With the diencephalon, it makes up the prosencephalon).
  • temporal: Latin tempus = time; hence, the temporal area of the scalp, where grey hair first appears, marking the progress of ageing.
  • tendon: Latin tendo = I stretch out.
  • tenia: Latin = a tape or ribbon.
  • tensor: Latin tensus = stretched; hence a muscle which produces tension.
  • tentorium: Latin = tent; tentorium cerebelli.
  • teres: Latin = rounded, cylindrical.
  • testicle: Latin testiculus = the male gonad (see testis).
  • testis: Latin testiculus = the male gonad. From Latin testis = a witness. Under Roman law, no man could bear witness (testify) unless he possessed both testes. Plural - testes.
  • tetralogy: Greek tetra = four, and logos = discourse, hence a combination of four elements e.g., symptoms or defects.
  • tetrology: Greek tetra = four, and logos = discourse, hence a combination of four elements or symptoms.
  • thalamus: Greek = bedroom - derivation obscure, though the posterior end of the thalamus is rounded and named pulvinar = cushion.
  • theca: Greek theka = a capsule, sheath.
  • thenar: Greek = palm of hand; hence, the ball of the thumb.
  • thorax: Greek = the chest, adjective, thoracic.
  • thyroid: Greek thyreos = shield, and eidos = shape or form; hence, shaped like a shield (which shields the glottis).
  • tibia: Latin = the shin-bone, adjective, tibial.
  • tonsil: Latin tonsilla = tonsil (e.g., palatine tonsil).
  • trabecula: diminutive of Latin trabs = a beam; hence the supporting fibres of a structure.
  • trachea: Greek tracheia = rough, referring to its corrugations.
  • tract: Latin tractus = an elongated strand of wool or dough; hence a pathway for nerve fibres.
  • tragus: Latin = goat, because of the beard-like tuft of hair on its internal aspect.
  • trapezium: Greek trapezion = a trapezium - a quadrilateral with 2 sides parallel.
  • trapezius: Greek trapezion = a trapezium - a quadrilateral with 2 sides parallel; hence, trapezius muscle, the diamond-shape of both trapezii muscles together.
  • trapezoid: Greek trapezion = a trapezium - a quadrilateral with 2 sides parallel, and eidos = shape or form, hence resembling a trapezium.
  • triceps: Latin tres = 3, and caput = head; hence a 3-headed muscle.
  • trigeminal: Latin trigeminus = triplets; hence, cranial nerve V, with 3 large divisions.
  • trigone: Latin trigonum = a triangle.
  • triticea: Latin triticum = a grain of wheat; hence, the tiny cartilage in the lateral thyrohyoid ligament.
  • trochanter: Greek = a runner; hence, the bony landmark, the greater trochanter, which moves so obviously in running.
  • truncus: Latin = trunk (of a tree).
  • tuber: Latin tuber = a swelling or lump.
  • tubercle: Latin diminutive of tuber, a small prominence, usually bony.
  • tuberculum: Latin diminutive of tuber, a small prominence, usually bony.
  • tuberosity: Latin tuber = a swelling or lump, usually large and rough.
  • tunica: Latin = shirt; hence a covering.
  • turbinate: Latin turbo = a child's (spinning) top; hence shaped like a top. Old term for nasal conchi.

Table of contents:

.A | .B | .C | .D | .E | .F | .G | .H | .I | .J | .K | .L | .M

.N | .O | .P | .Q | .R | .S | .T | .U | .V | .W | .X | .Y | .Z

U

  • ulna: Latin = elbow or arm; hence, the medial bone of the forearm.
  • umbo: Latin = the boss on the centre of a shield, umbo of tympanic membrane.
  • uncus: Latin = hook; adjective - uncinate.
  • ungual: pertaining to Latin unguis = finger-nail.
  • urachus: Greek ouron = urine, and echein = to hold, hence the canal connecting the bladder and umbilicus in the foetus.
  • ureter: Greek oureter = passage from kidney to bladder.
  • urethra: Greek ourethra = passage from bladder to exterior.
  • utricle: diminutive of Latin uterus = womb.
  • uvea: Latin uva = grape. The pigmented vascular layer of the eyeball (iris, ciliary body and choroid).
  • uvula: diminutive of Latin uva = grape.

V

  • vagina: Latin = sheath; hence, invagination is the acquisition of a sheath by pushing inwards into a membrane, and evagination is similar but produced by pushing outwards.
  • vagus: Latin = wandering; hence, cranial nerve X, which leaves the head and neck to traverse the thorax and upper part of the abdomen.
  • vallate: Latin vallatus = walled; hence, the large papillae on the tongue which are depressed below the surface and are surrounded by a groove which is itself bounded by a wall.
  • vallecula: diminutive of Latin vallis = a fossa.
  • valve: Latin valva = the segment of a folding-door.
  • valvula: diminutive of Latin valva.
  • varicocoele: Latin varix = vein and Greek kele = tumour, hernia, hence a varicose condition of the veins of the pampiniform plexus.
  • varus: Latin = bow-legged.
  • vas: Latin = vessel (plural = vasa).
  • vascular: Latin vasculum, diminutive of vas; hence, pertaining to blood vessels.
  • vastus: Latin = great, vast, extensive.
  • vein: Latin vena; adjective - venous.
  • velum: Latin = curtain; veli = of a curtain.
  • vena cava: Latin vena = vein + Latin cava, from caves = hollow. It is unclear why the vain was classically termed �hollow�.
  • venter: Latin = belly; hence, ventral, pertaining to the belly side.
  • ventricle: diminutive of Latin venter = a small belly.
  • vermiform: Latin vermis = a worm, and forma = shape; hence, worm-shaped.
  • vermis: Latin = worm; hence, the segmented median part of the cerebellum.
  • vertebra: Latin verto = I turn; hence, one of the movable bones of the backbone which seems to be shaped for rotation.
  • vertex: Latin = summit; hence the highest point on the skull.
  • vertical: perpendicular (at a right angle) to the horizontal.
  • vesica: Latin = bladder, adjective - vesical.
  • vesicle: diminutive of Latin vesica = bladder, hence a little bladder.
  • vesicula: diminutive of Latin vesica = bladder; seminal vesicle.
  • vibrissa: Latin vibrare = to vibrate; hence, the hairs in the nasal vestibule which vibrate in the current of air.
  • villus: Latin a hair; hence, a vascular, hair-like process, usually projecting from a mucous surface.
  • vincula: Latin = fetters (singular - vinculum); hence, the delicate vascular synovial bands passing to a tendon in the digits.
  • visceral: adjective, Latin viscus = an internal organ.
  • viscus: Latin = an internal organ, plural - viscera, adjective - visceral.
  • vital: Latin vita = life.
  • vocal: adjective, Latin vox = voice.
  • vomer: Latin = plough-share; hence, the bone of the nasal septum which is split in two at its upper edge.
  • vorticosae: Latin vortex = whirl; hence the whirl-like arrangement of the 4 venae vorticosae leaving the eyeball.
  • vulva: Latin = the external female genitalia.

X

  • xiphoid: Greek xiphos = a sword, and eidos = shape or form; hence, sword-shaped.

Z

  • zona: Latin = a belt; hence, a circular band.
  • zygapophysis: Greek zygon = yoke, apo = from, physis = growth; the articular process of a vertebra. The downward "growth" of the vertebra above articulates with the upward "growth" of the vertebra below, forming a zygapophyseal joint.
  • zygoma: Greek zygon = yoke; hence, the bone joining the maxillary, frontal, temporal and sphenoid bones.
  • zygomatic: adjective, Greek zygon = yoke; hence, pertaining to the bone joining the maxillary, frontal, temporal and sphenoid bones.
  • zygote: Greek zygon = yoke; hence the fusion of the male and female gametes.

Table of contents:

.A | .B | .C | .D | .E | .F | .G | .H | .I | .J | .K | .L | .M

.N | .O | .P | .Q | .R | .S | .T | .U | .V | .W | .X | .Y | .Z

Gray's Anatomy


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