Gross, Anatomy!

The human body is a treasure trove of vocabulary, from the tiniest blood vessel to the biggest bone. How many of these words for body parts do you know?
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definitions & notes only words
  1. abdomen
    the region of the body between the thorax and the pelvis
    His doctor was urging him to undergo surgery on a painful hernia in his abdomen, and his family didn’t pay the rent due on June 1.New York Times (Jun 11, 2020)
  2. capillary
    a minute blood vessel connecting arterioles with venules
    Surrounding those sacs are capillaries lined like bricks with endothelial cells.Science Magazine (Jun 2, 2020)
    Capillus is Latin for "hair," and capillaris means "of hair." So tiny, hair-like veins are called capillaries.
  3. clavicle
    bone linking the scapula and sternum
    Several weeks ago I fell in my home, breaking my clavicle, several ribs and my hip, and began an intense regimen to regain my health.Los Angeles Times (May 8, 2020)
  4. cranium
    the part of the skull that encloses the brain
    Curators exhibited the objects — which conformed to those in a photo taken by Matrone — and hastily cataloged the cranium as “Pliny the Elder’s skull.”New York Times (Feb 14, 2020)
    Cranium is Latin, from the Greek kranion, meaning "skull."
  5. diaphragm
    a muscular partition in the chest used in respiration
    Your diaphragm, the large muscle that sits just below your lungs and above your stomach, helps you breathe.Scientific American (Apr 30, 2020)
    Diaphragma is Greek, meaning "barrier," "partition," and, for the purposes of this list, also refers to the muscle that separates the abdomen from the thorax, and which expands and contracts our lungs, making us breathe.
  6. esophagus
    the passage between the pharynx and the stomach
    They are given nutrition intravenously at first, and then, if they do well, with a feeding tube that’s run down their esophagus.Slate (Jan 30, 2020)
    Esophagus is another Greek word, literally meaning "carry food."
  7. iris
    colored part of the eye that controls the size of the pupil
    Are the irises of your eyes light or dark?New York Times (May 30, 2020)
  8. larynx
    the structure containing the vocal cords
    By using the vocal tract with an artificial larynx sound, they synthesised a vowel sound meant to be similar to the voice of Nesyamun.BBC (Jan 23, 2020)
    Like pharynx, below, larynx is Greek. It refers to the part of your throat where your vocal cords are located. That's why inflammation of the vocal cords, such that you lose your voice, is called laryngitis.
  9. mandible
    the jaw in vertebrates that is hinged to open the mouth
    The insects bite into leaves with their mandibles and proboscises to induce flowering up to one month earlier than normal.Nature (May 21, 2020)
  10. midriff
    the central area of the human torso (usually in front)
    He laughs so hard he turns red, clutching his midriff and fighting for breath.Water for Elephants
    Your midriff is the area of your body below your ribcage and above your pelvis. It's an Old English word for the diaphragm, above.
  11. navel
    a scar where the umbilical cord was attached
    She did not speak, but instead drew a slow and shaking finger from her sternum to her navel.Slate (Jun 27, 2018)
  12. ocular
    relating to or resembling the eye
    At least one study found paintballs pose significant risk for devastating ocular trauma.New York Times (Jun 12, 2020)
    Oculus means "eye" in Latin.
  13. patella
    a small flat triangular bone in front of the knee
    A late-season knee surgery that repaired bipartite patella, a rare condition that occurs when the bones in the kneecap do not fuse after birth, forced him to step away from baseball activities for several weeks.Los Angeles Times (Feb 15, 2020)
  14. pharynx
    the passage to the stomach and lungs
    It highlights the increased risk of cancers of the lip, mouth, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus.BBC (Oct 25, 2019)
    Where the larynx is the vocal cords, the pharynx refers to the throat, the top of the windpipe.
  15. proboscis
    the human nose (especially when it is large)
    The bees soon cut several holes in the leaves of each plant using their mandibles and proboscises.Scientific American (May 21, 2020)
    Greek for "elephant's trunk," proboscis can refer to any long or large nose, or even the long tube that insects use to feed themselves.
  16. retina
    a light-sensitive membrane covering the back of the eyeball
    The artificial eye uses a lens to focus light onto a dense array of light-sensitive nanowires in order to mimic a human iris and retina.Fox News (May 21, 2020)
  17. sternum
    the breastbone
    The handlebars slammed into his chest, and he dislocated his sternum.The New Yorker (Oct 21, 2019)
  18. thorax
    the body of an arthropod between the head and the abdomen
    The kicker: golden pollen covering its thorax, abdomen, and legs.Science Magazine (Nov 11, 2019)
    Thorax means "chest" in Greek, but it's not used often in human anatomy any more. Insects, though, especially bees and wasps and the like, have very distinct thoraxes.
  19. trachea
    a tube that conveys inhaled air from the larynx to the lungs
    The woman, who is now breathing through a tube inserted in her trachea, is awake, eating and communicating with family via a cellphone, he said.Washington Post (Jun 10, 2020)
Created on June 1, 2020 (updated June 18, 2020)

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