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The Language of Anatomy

December 11, 201419 Comments

Watch the full version of this video.

Language of Anatomy - eBook

Anatomy Terms

Let’s begin by making sure we understand the words. You’ll get lost if you don’t know them. At first, you may have to think for a moment to remember which means front and which means back, but when you can do it this fast, you have it forever. If you need a quick reminder, I’ve created a list of anatomy terms below.

If you know the language of anatomy, you’ll be able to figure out those long latin names, and you won’t have to say “What the heck is Stan talking about?”

Terms of Location

Anterior describes something that is toward the front of the body. Alternatively, posterior describes something that is toward the back of the body. It also refers to the back of the hand, and top

of the foot. Medial is something located toward the middle of the body or away from the side. The opposite is Lateral. Something that is toward the side of the body or away from the middle. Superior is toward the top or above. And Inferior is toward the bottom, below. Distal refers mainly to the limbs and describes something away from the center of the body. Alternatively, Proximal is something closer to the center of the

body. When I say that something is deep, I mean that it is not visible on the surface. It’s covered with other volumes. However, superficial means it is visible on the surface. And similarly, subcutaneous means just below the skin. Like the bony landmarks. Thanks Skelly!

The premium version shows an explanation of more terms and has a downloadable PDF that you can print out.


Anatomy Terms

Anatomical Position (reference position) – Standing figure with feet together, arms down and supinated

The Three Anatomical Planes

Sagittal Plane – A vertical line, divides the body into a left and right

Coronal Plane – A vertical line, divides the body into a front and back

Transverse Plane – A horizontal line, divides the body into a top and bottom

Terms of Location

Anterior – Toward the front of the body

Median – Located on the midline of the torso or limbs

Posterior – Toward the back of the body

Lateral – Toward the side of the body, away from the middle

Medial – Toward the middle of the body, away from the side

Superior – Toward the top, above

Proximal – Situated nearer to the center of the body or the point of attachment

Deep – Not visible on the surface, covered with something else

Inferior – Toward the bottom, below

Distal – Situated away from the center of the body or from the point of attachment

Superficial – Visible on the surface

Subcutaneous – Just below the skin, specifically referring to the bony landmarks

Origin (of a muscle) -Where the muscle attaches to a part of the body that doesn’t move, or moves very little

Insertion (of a muscle) – Where the muscle attaches to a part of the body that will move when the muscle pulls

Terms of Movement

Flexion – Bending movement that decreases the angle between two parts (e.g bending the elbow)

Extension – Straightening movement that increases the angle between body parts (e.g straightening the elbow)

Abduction – Movement away from the midline (e.g lift arm up to side)

Adduction – Movement towards the midline (e.g lower arm back to hip)

Medial Rotation – Rotating movement towards the midline (e.g rotating the knee inward)

Lateral Rotation – Rotating movement away from the midline (e.g rotating the knee outward)

Elevation – Movement in a superior direction (e.g shoulder shrug)

Depression – Movement in an inferior direction (e.g shoulder down)

Protraction – Movement in the anterior direction (e.g shoulder forward)

Retraction – Movement in the posterior direction (e.g shoulder back)

Pronation – Rotate the palm of the hand so that it is facing posteriorly, or down (e.g typing on a keyboard)

Supination – Rotate the palm of the hand so that it is facing anteriorly, or up (e.g holding a bowl of soup)

Dorsiflexion – Flexion of the foot at the ankle so the foot points superiorly, and rotating the hand so the back of the hand moves closer to the forearm

Plantarflexion – Extension of the foot at the ankle, so the foot points inferiorly

Palmarflexion – Rotating the hand so the palm of the hand moves closer to the forearm

Opposition – Bring the thumb and little finger together

Reposition – Move the thumb and little finger away from each other

Circumduction – The circular movement of a limb, a combination of flexion, extension, adduction and abduction

Inversion – Movement which faces the sole of the foot inwards

Eversion – Movement which faces the sole of the foot outwards


Bi – Two
Tri – Three
Quad – Four


Minor/Minimus – Small
Major/Maximus/Vastus/Magnus – Great/Large
Brevis – Short
Longus – Long

Pertaining to a Part of the Body

Cephalic/Cranial – Of the Head

Clavicular – Of the Collar bone

Acromial – Of the Shoulder region

Brachial – Of the Arm

Cubital – Of the Elbow

Carpal – Of the Wrist

Abdominal – Of the Stomach region

Pelvic – Of the Hipbone

Pubic – Of the Groin

Geniculate – Of the Knee region

Pedal – Of the Foot

Palmar – Of the Palm of the hand

Plantar – Of the Sole of the foot

Cervical Region – Part of spinal column comprising the neck

Thoracic Region – Part of spinal column comprising the thorax or chest

Lumbar Region – Part of spinal column comprising the dorsal section of umbilical region

Sacral Region – Part of spinal column comprising the pelvic area

Coccyx Region – Part of spinal column comprising the tail bone

Filed in: Anatomy

Comments (19)

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  1. Mae says:

    Thank you SO SO SO much for this Stan!! Can’t express how thanksful I am! You’re amazing!

  2. Dr. Nicolas Rao says:

    Thanks for the lesson Prako,
    I am a physician but its nice to remember the lessons of first year. Wish I had drawing lessons then. We had to draw images of all our dissections, so it would have been a great help.
    However, thats over 40 years ago.
    I am sure this will be very helpful to the others on your list.
    Dr. Nicolas Rao

  3. Angelika Groening says:

    Hi Proko,

    Skelly is cute, but also a real help to be able to grasp things the fun way.


  4. Parisinne says:

    Nice video! Very helpful. Do you have a list of all the scheduled vids in the Anatomy lessons? Would be nice to know what comes next.

  5. Thomas Kleinberger says:

    Thank you very much Stan:))))))

  6. Cindy de Andrade Avelino says:

    Thank you! Awesome content!

  7. tomas de zarate says:

    So funny and clever! Thks a lot!!

  8. Stephanie Lynn says:

    Thanks a ton, I love what you’re doing with all of these lessons. A lot of classes online are very cut and dry (like it was for me in college). But the playful environment you set up is much less intimidating and makes me feel more like working hard than falling asleep.

  9. says:

    The ebook is great! Thanks Stan!!!

  10. haruhi says:

    thank you so much ^^

  11. Jay Woodruff says:

    Now, every time I see a blue ball, Im gonna wonder if there’s meat inside.

  12. Ariel says:

    I can’t express how excited I am to be following this course. I’ve been searching fo a fun way to learn the details of drawing anatomy for the artist for years and your videos are just super amusing and informational.

  13. david argel luna delgado says:

    I cant download the pdf 🙁

  14. Cristian Guzmán says:

    Thank you so much Mr. Proko !!
    I am really excited studying all of this.

  15. Elena says:

    Hi Mr. Proko, thank you so much for the lessons! I just came across your channel on YouTube and I have learned so much in just a couple of videos.

    I have a question, though. About ‘pronation’ and ‘supination’, they say to rotate the palm posteriorly and anteriorly respectively, but aren’t ‘posterior’ and ‘anterior’ ‘back and front’ and not ‘down and up’? Thanks. 🙂

  16. Max says:

    Wow! You are an art weirdo! Bro also an art genius. A well versed artist in this anatomy specifically.Thanks Stan for imparting knowledge.

  17. Pako Gomez says:

    Just joined a few days ago. Ba da ba ba ba.. I’m loving it!

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