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Anatomy Atlases: Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Part I: Muscular System: Glossary of Terms

Illustrated Encyclopedia of Human Anatomic Variation: Part I: Muscular System

Glossary of Terms

Ronald A. Bergman, PhD
Adel K. Afifi, MD, MS
Ryosuke Miyauchi, MD

Peer Review Status: Internally Peer Reviewed


Hippocrates and other ancient anatomists had to develop a dictionary in order to communicate their observations. Rufus even produced a book, "On naming of the Parts of the Body," in the first century. Galen, however was among the first to attempt to establish a reasonably comprehensive nomenclature derived from the Greek. It was very extensive and a large percentage of his terms are still in use today. It is clear however that progress in descriptive terminology was vital to growth of the subject. What Galen referred to as "the muscles which rotate the head and whose extremities reach the sternum and clavicle"is simply referred to as the sternocleidomastoid muscle today. Anatomical nomenclature grew enormously and haphazardously with innumerable synonyms from the second to the 16th century. Some 40,000 terms were used by anatomists with some structures having as many as 10, or more, different names. Communication between anatomists and other interested parties became extremely difficult.

During the 16th century several important physician/anatomists, among them Guenther and Sylvius (Vesalius' teacher) sought resolution of the chaotic state of the nomenclature and did this through the published work of Vesalius. It was Sylvius that gave names to most of the blood vessels and it is his terminology that became the basis for the development of all future nomenclatures. Vesalius, in his Fabrica of 1543, used a highly involved, difficult, and sophisticated Latin idiom of a type affected by the more pretentious, mid-sixteenth century humanists. This nomenclature failed to be adopted because the physicians of the period were not broadly or even well educated and they could not understand it or use it correctly. Vesalius, inspite of his failure, was certainly was one of the most important reformers of the nomenclature of the period.

Image 58

Title page of Vesalius' book, "De humani corporis fabrica libri septum,"
published in Basel in 1543, by Joannis Oporini.
Considered by many scholars to be the most important medical book ever published.

In the 18th century, the great German anatomist, von Sömmerring avoided using eponyms, i.e., the use of proper names. He asked the question, "did not Fallopius (1523-1562) know the ileocaecal valve long before Bauhin (1560-1624)?" It was, afterall, the Italian anatomists and other anatomists working in Italy that originally taught us anatomy. Bauhin's name was synonymous, the eponym, for the ileocaecal valve at that time. Priority was questioned, and the appropriateness of the eponym was challenged by von Sömmerring. These arguments, unfortunately, continue to the present day; anatomists tend to use anatomical terms and clinicians continue to use eponyms.

Jakob Henle, another important German anatomist accepted and used only one name for each structure and he rejected personal names on the ground that they were frequently not in accord with historical fact or justice thereby supporting von Sömmerring. In this way, Henle made several fundamental contributions to anatomical nomenclature. Later in the nineteenth century, Hyrtl, the Viennese anatomist, wrote a detailed analysis of 421 terms published as a book in 1880, "Onomatogia anatomica." The great number of synonyms however remained a huge problem. In any large textbook of gross anatomy published anound 1900, one could find as many as 10,000 terms. It should be remembered that between the 17th and 19th centuries at least 40,000 terms were expunged from the anatomical dictionary. Still, more than half of the terms found in a early 20th century textbook of anatomy were synonyms. Barker (1907), found 30,000 terms in several large textbooks and 40 synonyms for the epiphysis cerebri alone: the proper NA (Nomina Anatomica) or official term is corpus pineale: Gr. conarium; Lat. pinus, pineal gland or body.

The German founders of the Anatomische Gesellschaft held a meeting in Basle in 1868. Arguably the greatest assemblage of anatomists ever convenened, produced a list of 4500 acceptable terms from the 30-50,000 available. The 4500 terms became known as the BNA (Basle Nomina Anatomica); our basic international anatomical dictionary. This meeting was followed by the Birmingham revision in 1933, the Paris nomina in 1950, and continues today through an international committee that edits and scrutinizes the nomina.

Each term in the official list of the NA is in latin, but it is important to note that each country is at liberty to translate the official Latin into its own vernacular for teaching purposes. The longest anatomical term found by the present authors is in German, and consists of 42 letters, Bauchspeicheldrüsenzwölffingerdarmpulsader. Translated into English (not much better), superior pancreatoduodenal artery, three words. A number of Latin terms are never translated when writing in English, French, German, or Italian and these include foramen magnum and tunica albuginea as examples. Some of these terms are found in the Glossary and in the listing of Old and Modern Terminology. Without the latter listing, it is not always possible to make sense of the older literature regardless of the language it is written in.

Image 99 Image 100

Final Pages of Tabulated Muscles
From Albinus, B.S. Historia Musculorum Hominis, Apud Theodorum Haak & Henricum Mulhovium, 1734

Glossary of Terms

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

Their origin and definition related to Muscles.

The following abbreviations are used: F., French; G., Greek; L., Latin; and ME., Middle English.

A.

Abductor
(L. abducere, to move away). A muscle that draws a structure away from the axis of the body or one of its parts, e.g. lateral rectus muscle.
Accessorius
(L. accessorius, to move toward). Accessory or supernumerary. Also denoting specific muscles.
Accessory
(L. accessorius, to move toward). Supernumerary, adjuvant.
Adductor
(L. adducere, to bring forward). A muscle that draws a structure toward the axis of the body or one of its parts, e.g. adductor pollicis.
Alae(L. ala, wing).
Relating to a muscle of the nose, and others.
Anconeus
(G. ankon, elbow). Musculus anconeus.
Ani
(L. anus, anal oriface). Pertaining to a muscle that supports the anus.
Anticus
(L. anticus, anterior). Designating a muscle as placed anteriorly, e.g. serratus anterior.
Arch
(L. arcus, a bow). Any structure resembling a bent bow or an arch.
Articulationis
(L. articulationes, the forming of new joints of a vine). Pertaining to muscles that insert into a joint capsule.
Arytenoid
(G. arytenoideus, ladel-shaped). Pertaining to muscles attached to this laryngeal cartilage.
Atlanto-
(G. Atlas, in Greek mythology a Titan who supported the world on his shoulders). Relating to muscles attached to the first cervicle vertebra, the atlas.
Atloideus.
See Atlanto-
Auricularis
(L. auricularis, the external ear). Pertaining to muscles that attach to the external ear. Also referring to the fifth digit of the hand because of its use in cleaning the external auditory meatus.
Axillary
(L. axilla, armpit). Pertaining to muscles that are found in the region of the armpit, e.g. axillary arch muscle.
Azygos
(G. a, without + zygon, yoke). Any unpaired muscle.

 

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B

Basilaris
(G., L., basis, base). Pertaining to the base, body, or lower part of a structure, e.g., base of the skull.
Biceps
(L. bi, two + caput, head). Two heads. Pertaining to muscles with two heads, e.g., biceps brachii.
Biventer
(L. bi, two + venter, belly). Muscle having two bellies.
Brachialis
(G. brachion, arm). Muscles relating to the arm.
Brachii
(G. brachion, arm). Muscles of the arm.
Brachio-
(G. brachion, arm) Relating to the arm.
Brevis
(L. brevis, short, brief).A short muscle or head, e.g., short head of biceps brachii.
Buccinator
(L. buccinator, trumpeter). A muscle of the cheek.
Bucco-
(L. bucca, cheek) Pertaining to the cheek.
Bulbo-
(L. bulbus, a bulbus root). Any globular or fusiform structurs. A muscle covering a bulbar structure.

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C

Capitis
(L. caput, head). Pertaining to the head.
Capsularis
(L. capsa, a chest or box). A muscle joined to a capsule as, for example, a joint. Any structure so designated as a capsule.
Carnosus
(L. carnis, flesh or muscle). Pertaining to muscular tissue or dermal muscles.
Carpi
(G. karpos, wrist). Muscles relating to the eight carpal bones of the wrist.
Caudatus
(L. cauda, tail) The belly of a muscle. When the bellies are divided, bicaudatus.
Cavernosus
(L. caverna, a grotto or hollow). Pertaining to the cavernous tissue of the reproductive system.
Cerato-
(G. keras, horn). Relating to muscle that arises from the greater horn of the hyoid bone.
Chondro-
(G. chondros, cartilage). Pertaining to muscles that arise from costal cartilage.
Cilii
(L. cilium, eyelid). Pertaining to the eyebrow, e.g., corrigator supercilii.
Clavicularis
(L. clavicula, small key). Pertaining to muscles associated with the clavicle.
Cleido-
(G. kleis, clavicle). Related with the clavicle.
Coccygeus
(G. kokkyx, a cuckoo). A muscle associated with the coccyx, e.g., musculus coccygeus.
Colli
(L. collum, neck). Pertaining to the neck or to the neck of a structure, e.g., longus colli muscle.
Communis
(L. communis, in common). Relating to more than one structure working as one unit, e.g., extensor digitorum communis.
Compressor
(L. compressus, to press together). A muscle that, when contracted, produces pressure on another structure.
Condyloideus
(G. kondylos, knuckle). Pertaining to a muscle attached to the outer edge of a joint or a bony knob-like stucture.
Constrictor
(L. constringere). A muscle that, upon contraction, reduces the size of a canal, a sphincter.
Coraco-
(G. korakoides, a crow's beak). Denoting a muscle that arises from the coracoid process of the scapula.
Cornu
(L. cornu, horn). Any structure resembling a horn in shape.
Corrugator
(L. con, together + ruga, wrinkel). A muscle that wrinkels the skin.
Costalis
(L. costa, rib). Pertaining to muscles attached to ribs.
Cremaster
(G. kremaster, a suspender). Musculus cremaster, the muscle by which the testicles are suspended.
Crico-
(G. kikos, a ring). Denoting muscles that attach to the cricoid cartilage.
Crural
(L. crus, leg). Pertaining to the leg (from knee to ankle) or to any other muscle designated as a crus.

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D

Deltoideus
(G. deltoeides, shaped like the letter delta). The musculus deltoideus, shaped like an inverted delta.
Dentate
(L. dentatus, toothed). Notched muscles, e.g., the serrati.
Diaphragm
(G. diaphragma, a partition). Muscle diaphragma separating the thorax from the abdomen.
Digastricus
(G. di, two + gaster, belly). Denoting muscles with two fleshy parts separated by a tendinous intersection, e.g., musculus digastricus.
Dilatores
(ME. dilaten, to dilate or expand). Denoting a muscle that opens an orifice.
Dorso-
(L. dorsum, back). Muscles related to the dorsal surface of the body, e.g., latissimus dorsi muscle. Also any structure related specifically to the thorax.

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E

Epi-
(G. epi, upon). Denoting a muscle attached to another structure, e.g., dorsoepitrochlearis muscle.
Epistropheus
(G. epistropheus, the pivot). Muscles relating to the second cervical vertebra.
Epitrochlearis
(L. epi, upon + trochlearis, block or pulley). Pertaining to muscles associated with the humeral epichondyle.
Extensor
(L. ex-tendre, to stretch out). A muscle that , upon contraction, tends to straighten a limb. The antagonist of a flexor muscle.

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F

Femoris
(L. femur, thigh). Pertaining to the femur or thigh.
Flexor
(L. flectere, to bend). A muscle that, upon contraction tends to bend a joint; the antagonist of an extensor.

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G

Gastrocnemius
(G. gaster, belly + kneme, leg). The belly of the leg, e.g., musculus gastrocnemius.
Gemelli
(L. geminus, twin). The two gemelli, superior and inferior.
Genio-
(G. geneion, chin) Pertaining to muscles of the chin (mandible).
Glosso-
(G. glossa, tongue). Pertaing to a muscle that arises from, or inserts on, the tongue.
Gluteus
(G. gloutos, buttock). Pertaining to the muscles of the buttocks.
Gracilis
(L. gracilis, slender or delicate). Musculus gracilis of the thigh.

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H

Hallucis
(L. hallux, great toe). The muscles and tendons associated with the first digit of the foot.
Humero-
(G. homos, shoulder). Pertaining to the bone of the arm and a muscles associated with it.
Hyo-
(G. hyoeides, hyoid). Relating to the U-shaped hyoid bone and muscles associated with it.
Hyoideus.
See Hyo- above.

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I

Iliacus
(L. ilium, groin). A muscle of the groin.
Ilio-
(L. ilium, groin). Pertaining to a muscle of the groin and ilium.
Indicis
(L. index, one that points). The forefinger or pointer.
Inferior
(L. inferior, lower). Lower, caudal.
Infra-
(L. infra, below) Pertaining to a position below a named structure, e.g., infraspinatus.
Internal
(L. internus, interior). Deep or away from the surface.
Inter
(L. inter, between). Between or among.
Ischio-
(G. ischion, hip) Pertaining to the ischium.

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J, K, L

Lateral
(L. lateralis, lateral). To the right or left of the axial line, to the outside, away from the midline.
Latissimo-
(L. latus, broad). A term applied to some broad flat muscles, e.g., latissimus dorsi.
Levator
(L. levare, to lift). One of several muscles whose function is to lift the structure to which it is attached, e.g., levator palpebrae superiorus.
Linguae
(L. lingua, tongue). Pertaining to, or toward, the tongue.
Longissimus
(L. longus, long). A name given to certain long muscles, e.g., longissimus capitis.
Lumborum
(L. lumbus, a loin) Pertaining to the back and sides between the pelvis and ribs.
Lumbricales
(L. lumbricus, an earthworm). Muscles resembling earthworms, e.g. the lumbricals.

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M

Mandibulo-
(L. mandere, to chew). Pertaining to a muscle arising from the mandible.
Manus
(L. manus, hand). Pertaining to the muscles of the hand.
Masseter
(G. maseter, masticator). A large masticatory muscle of the jaw.
Mastoideus
(G. mastos, breast + eidos, resemblance). Resembling a mamma or a breast- shaped structure.
Medial
(L. medialis, middle). Relating to muscle nearer to the median or midsagittal plane.
Mentalis
(L. mentum, chin). Relating to the muscles of the chin, e.g., musculus mentalis.
Mento-
(L. mentum, chin). See Mentalis.
Metacarpo-
(G. meta, after + carpus, wrist). Pertaining to the bones adjacent to the wrist.
Musculus
(L. mus, mouse). A muscle.
Myo-
(G. mys, a muscle). Relating to a muscle.
Mytiformis
(G. mytilos, mussel + forma, shape). Shaped like the shellfish, e.g., musculus mytiformis.

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N

Naris(L. naris, nostril). Pertaining to muscles associated with the nostril.
Nasalis(L. nasus, nose). Pertaining to the nose.
Nuchae(F. nuque, back of the neck). Muscles associated with the back of the neck.

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O

Obturator
(L. obturare, to occlude). Pertaining to muscles associated with the obturator membrane, which closes the obturator foramen.
Occipitalis
(L. ob, before or against + caput, head). Pertaining to muscles attached to the occipital bone.
Omo
(L. omo, shoulder). Pertaining to muscle attached to the scapula.
Opponens
( L. opponere, to place against). A name given to several adductor muscles of the fingers and toes.
Oris
(L. oris, mouth). Relating to the entrance to the digestive tube, or mouth.
Os
(L. os, bone) a bone

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P

Palato-
(L. palatum, palate). Relating to the hard or soft palate.
Palmaris
(L. palma, palm of the hand). Pertaining to muscles of the forearm, wihich may insert into the palmar aponeurosis.
Palpebrae
(L. palpebra, eyelid). The eyelid.
Panniculus
(L. pannus, cloth). Pertaining to a thin sheet of dermal muscle.
Pectineus
(L. pecten, a comb). Pertaining to the os pubis or any ridged structure. A muscle.
Pectoro-
(L.pectus, pector-, chest). Pertaining to the muscles of the chest wall.
Pedis
(L. pes, foot). Refering to the foot.
Penis
(L. penis, tail) The male reproductive organ.
Peroneus
(G. perone, brooch or fibula). Pertaining to several muscles on the lateral or fibular side of the leg.
Phalangei
(F., G., L. phalanx, a formation of Roman soldiers). Pertaining to the bones of the fingers.
Pharyngeus
(G. pharynx, throat). Pertaining to the pharynx.
Piriformis
(L. pirum, pear + forma, shaped). Pear-shaped.
Pisiform
(L. pisum, pea + forma). Pea-shaped or pea sized.
Plantaris
(L. plantaris, sole of the foot) Pertaining to a muscle of the foot, musculus plantaris.
Platysma
(G. platys, flat or broad). A broad flat dermal muscle of the thorax and neck.
Pollicis
(L. pollex, thumb). Relating to the thumb.
Popliteus
(L. poples, the ham of the knee). Pertaining to a muscle of the popliteal space.
Procerus
(L. procerus, long or stretched-out). A muscle of the nose.
Pronator
(L. pronare, to bend forward). A muscle that, on contraction, rotates the hand so that the palm of the hand faces backward when the arm is in the anatomical position.
Psoas
(G. psoa, muscle of the loin). Pertaining to muscles in the lumbosacral region, the "tenderloin".
Pterygoideus
(G. pteryx, or pteryg-, wing + eidos, resemblance). Wing-shaped. Applied to muscles associated with the pterygoid processes of the sphenoid bone.
Pubo-
(L. pubes, genitalis). Pertaing to muscles attaching to the os pubis.
Pyramidalis
(G. pyramis, pyramid). Applied to muscles having, more or less, pyramidal shape.

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Q

Quadratus
(L. quadratus, square). More or less square-shaped muscles.
Quadriceps
(L. quadi-, four + caput, head). A name given to a muscle having four heads, e.g., quadriceps femoris.
Quinti
(L. quintus, fifth). Fifth, as in the fifth digit.

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R

Radio-
(L. radius, ray). Pertaining to muscles associated with the radius of the forearm.
Rectalis
(L. rectus, straight). Pertaining to muscles associated with the distal segment of the large intestine.
Rhombo-
(G. rhombos, a rhomb). Resembling a rhomb, an oblique parallelogram of unequal sides. Relating to two superficial muscles of the back.
Risorius
(L. risor, laughter). Pertaining to a facial muscle, i.e., musculus risorius.

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S

Salpingo-
(G. salpinx, trumpet). Pertaining to a muscle fascicle attached to the eustachian (auditory) tube and pharynx.
Saphenous
(G. saphenes, visible) Pertaining to a muscle that is associated with the saphenous vein.
Sartorius
(L. sartor, a tailor). Musculus sartorius.
Scalenus
(G. skalenos, uneven). Pertaining to muscles having uneven sides or length.
Scapulo-
(L. scapulae, shoulder blades). Pertaining to a muscle associated with the scapula.
Semi-
(L. semis, half). Prefix denoting half or partly.
Serratus
(L. serra, saw). Pertaining to muscles that are serrated, notched, or dentate.
Soleus
(L. solea, a sandal [foot]). Musculus soleus.
Spinous
(L. spina, thorn). Related to the spinous processes of the vertebral column.
Splenius
(G. splenion, a bandage). Musculus splenius and others.
Stapedius
(L. stapes, stirrup). A muscle inserted into the stapes. Musculus stapedius.
Sterno-
(G. sternon, the chest). Pertaining to muscles attached to the sternum.
Stylo-
(G. stylos, pillar or post). Pertaining to muscles attached to the styloid process of the temporal bone.
Sub-
(L. sub, under). Denoting muscles that are beneath or inferior to a named structure, e.g., subclavius.
Superior
(L. superus, above). Denoting a muscle located above another muscle in an inferior position or to another structure to which it is attached.
Supinator
(L. supinare, to place on back). Denoting a muscle that, upon contraction, rotates the forearm and hand with the palm facing anteriorly when the hand and forearm are in the anatomical position.
Supra-
(L. supra, above). Prefix to note the position of a muscle above a named structure, e.g., supracostalis.
Suralis
(L. sura, calf of the leg). Relating to the calf.

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T

Temporalis
(L. tempus, time or temple). Relating to the temple, musculus temporalis.
Tensor
(L. tendere, to stretch). Pertaining to a muscle whose function is to make a structure, to which it is attached, firm and tense.
Teres
(L. tero, round or smooth). Denoting certain muscles that are round and long.
Thyro-
(G. thyreos, an oblong shield). Denoting certain muscles attached to the thyroid cartilage.
Tibialis
(L. tibia, a pipe or flute). Pertaining to muscles attached to the tibia.
Trachelian
(G. trachelos, neck). Pertaining to muscles associated with the neck.
Transversus
(L. trans, across + vertare, to turn). Denoting muscles that lie across the long axis of an organ or a part.
Trapezius
(G. trapezion, a table) A four sided muscle having no two sides that are parallel. Musculus trapezius.
Triangularis
(L. tri, three + angulus, angle). A muscle that is, more or less, triangular in shape.
Triceps
(L. tri, three + caput, head). Denoting a muscle with three heads, e.g., musculus triceps.
Triticeo-
(L. triticum, a grain of wheat). Pertaining to a muscle attached in part to the cartilago triticea.

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U

Ulnaris
(L. ulna, elbow forearm). Pertaining to the larger and more medial of the two bones of the forearm.
Uncinatus
(L. uncus, hook). Os hamatum or unciform bone. A muscle attached to the hook of the hamate, e.g., pisiuncinatus.
Urethrae
(G. ourethra, urethra). Relating to the urethra, e. g., musculus sphincter urethrae.

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V

Vaginae
(L. vagina, sheath). Pertaining to a muscle attached to a joint capsule.
Vastus
(L. vastus, huge). A large muscle of the thigh, musculus quadriceps with three vasti and a rectus.

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W, X, Y, Z

Zygomaticus
(G. zygoma, a bar or bolt) Pertaining to the zygomatic bone, e.g., musculus zygomaticus.

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