Anatomical Vocabulary

Anatomical nouns and adjective for external body parts


Like all areas of science, there is a lot of jargon associated with anatomy and physiology. Often terms are used within the field that differ from what we would name things in everyday conversation. Such jargon usually allows the specialist in the field to be more precise in what exactly they are referring to, but the jargon also can be intimidating and exclusionary. If you don’t know it, you are not in the club.

Lab 1 Exercises 1.2

Here are a bunch anatomical adjectives (followed in parentheses by the noun version of the same term). For each, use your smart phone or laptop or whatever is most convenient to you to find what body part the term refers to. (Shortcut hint: the Google search engine will return definitions for words if you type “define: word” in the search box, leaving out the quotation marks.)

Write down the body part or body region next to each term. Use Figure 1.4 to help you make sure you have the correct definition, but look up each definition to make sure you are being accurate.

  1. Find the body part or region indicated by each of the following terms. Use everyday language to describe the part or region. (Forearm, belly, etc.)
Abdominal (abdomen)  


Acromial (acromion)
Antebrachial (antebrachium)  


Antecubital (antecubitis)
Auricle (auris)  


Axillary (axilla)
Brachial (brachium)  


Buccal (bucca)
Carpal (carpus)  


Cephalic (cephalus)
Cervical (cervicis)  


Coxal (coxa)
Cranial (cranium)  


Crural (crus)
Digital (digit)  


Dorsal (dorsa)
Facial (facies)  


Femoral (femur)
Frontal (frons)  


Gluteal (gluteus)
Inguinal (inguen)  


Lumbar (lumbus)
Mammary (mamma)  


Manual (manus)
Mental (mentum)  


Nasal (nasus)
Olecranal (olecranon)  


Oral (oris)
Ocular (oculus)  


Palmar (palma)
Patellar (patella)  


Pelvic (pelvis)
Plantar (planta)  


Popliteal (popliteus)
Pubic (pubis)  


Sacral (sacrum)
Sural (sura)  


Tarsal (tarsus)
Thoracic (thorax)  


Umbilical (umbilicus)


Front and back drawing of a man showing anatomical adjectives such as frontal, facial, carpel, etc.

Figure 1-4. Anatomical adjectives for common surface features.