Saturday, November 28, 2009

How bones got their names

Many of the medical names are derived from latin. If you study a bit of latin or greek you will find medical terms getting simpler. Below is a picture depicting how few bones got their names (Starting from the first picture row wise):
  • ACETABULAM 
In Latin, acetum = vinegar and -bulum, a suffix signifying the instrument. Acetabulum was thought to resemble a small vinegar cruet of roman times.
  • TIBIA
In Latin means a flute. Yes, a tibia after removal of external fixators looks like a flute :-)
  • PATELLA
In Latin means a little plate. So next time have food in a big patella !
  • SKULL
In Anglo Saxon means a bowl. Eat brain from the bowl !
  • OLECRANON
In Greek, olenokranon, from olene = elbow and kranos = helmet. In other words, the protector of the elbow. Elbow's helmet !
  • COCCYX
In Greek, kokkyx = cuckoo. This bone looks like the beak of a cuckoo. Huh?
  • PELVIS
In Latin, pelvis means basin.
  • CLAVICLE
In Latin, clavicula, diminutive of clavis = a key. Clavicle resembled those old keys. Anyway, don't use your clavicle to open your door :-)

















If you want to study the origin of more medical terms try these websites:
  1. http://www.eet.unsw.edu.au/~timm/GreekLatin.html
  2. http://www.emory.edu/ANATOMY/AnatomyManual/Etymology.html

1 comment :

Ulysses Garcia said...

I've been interested in etymology for quite a while now. It's a wonder why high school teachers tell you the names of things, but not their origins. I think it would help people a lot if they knew the history behind these words.
I didn't see all of the names of the skeletal system, such as the frontal, parietal, occipital, temporal, etc of the cranium. I'd also like to know the origins of the zygomatic, nasal, mandible, maxillary lower jaw, scapula, radius, ulna, sternum, etc.
Thanks for this list. It really helps to have this handy.

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