The Language of Anatomy

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The Language of Anatomy

324K
Mark as Completed

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

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

Posterior – Toward the back of the body

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

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

Quantity

Bi – Two

Tri – Three

Quad – Four

Size

Minor/Minimus – Small

Brevis – Short

Major/Maximus/Vastus/Magnus – Great/Large

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

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Founder of Proko, artist and teacher of drawing, painting, and anatomy. I try to make my lessons fun and ultra packed with information.
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