Language of Anatomy

To make the study of anatomy easy scientists describe various terms in different regions and these terms are named as the language of anatomy and without knowing these terms to learn anatomy is nothing just a Himalayan blunder.

Due to the importance of these terms and to avoid confusion we divide these terms into various divisions which are described below.


anatomical language


Terms according to position

a. Anatomical position

when the person is standing straight with eyes looking forward, palm facing forward, both feet together then the position is the anatomical position.

b. Supine position

When the person is laying in his back, palm facing upward, and feet put together then the position is the supine position.

c. Prone

A person lying in his chest, the abdomen is said to be in the prone position.

d. Lithotomy

A person lying on her back with the legs up and feet supported in the strap is said to be in a lithotomy position.

Terms According to the plane of the body

a.Median plane

A plane that divides the body into equal right and left part is known is the median plane or midsaggital plane.

b.Coronal plane

A plane that divides the body into the anterior and posterior part is known as a coronary plane.

c.Transverse horizontal plane

A Plane at a right angle to both the median and the coronary plane is known as a horizontal plane.

d.Oblique plane

Any other planes except the above are known is oblique planes.

e.Cardinal plane

A plane that traverses the center of the body is known as a cardinal plane.

Application of body planes

Many medical techniques especially medical imaging techniques such as sonography, x rays or ct scan are the primary application of the body planes.  These planes are used to find the location of internal structures in the body.  There are many structures present in the body that is quite complicated to study therefore we divide these structure by various planes and study them. Changes that occur during embryological development is also measured with body planes.

Terms used in the neck, trunk, face upper limb and lower limb.

a. Ventral, front
b.  Dorsal, back
c.   lateral,  away from the median plane
d.  Proximal,  close to the head end of the body
e.   superficial,   close to the skin
f.    ipsilateral,           structures on the same side
g.     contralateral,         structures on opposite sides
h.     invagination,     projection inside
i.       evagination,        projection outside



Terms related to movement


when surfaces are brought close to each other.


when the angle between the surfaces increased.


when a limb is taken away from the body.

d. Adduction

when a limb is brought close to the body

e. Circumduction

combination of all of the above movements.

f. Supination

when the palm is facing forward or upward as putting food in the mouth.

g. pronation

when the palm faces backward

h. The opposition of the thumb

when the tip of the thumb touches the tips of any other fingers.


when the dorsum of the foot is brought close to the front of the leg and sole faces forward.


when the sole of the foot faces backward.

Regional term

Below are some of the terms used for different regions.
1. Abdominal   inferior to the ribs
2. Axillary   armpit
3. Brachial arm from elbow to shoulder
4. Antebrachial    arm from elbow to the wrist
5. Carpal   wrist
6. Digital.   finger or toes
7.  Cephalic.  Head
8.  Cervical. Neck region
9.   Inguinal. The region where the thigh meets with the trunk.
10.  Pubic.  Genital region
11.  Thoracic. Chest
12.   Gluteal.   Buttock
13.   Lumbar.   The area between the pelvis and ribs.
14.  Occipital.  The posterior surface of the head.

Directional terms

There are a lot of terms present in anatomy books. These terms are used to describe the location of a structure. Below are the terms that are related to the direction

1.  Anterior.  This term describes the front. For example, toes are anterior to the foot.
2.  Posterior.  This term describes the back direction.
3.   Superior.  This term describes a position above.
4.   Inferior.  This term describes a position below.
5.    Lateral. This term describes the direction away from the body.
6.   Medial. This term describes the direction towards the body.

Body cavities and membranes

The human body maintains its internal framework by means of various membranes and other structures that separate various compartments. The largest cavities present in the body are the dorsal cavity and the ventral cavity. These cavities contain many delicate internal organs.

These cavities are then divided into many small cavities.

The dorsal cavity is divided into the cranial cavity and spinal cavity. The cranial cavity houses the brain while the other cavity encloses the important structure spinal cord. These both sub-cavities are continuous.

The ventral cavity is also divided into the thoracic cavity and abdominopelvic cavity. These both cavities are separated by a diaphragm.  The diaphragm forms the floor of the thoracic cavity.

























Abdominal regions

To understand the structures present in the abdomen anatomist divides the abdomen into nine abdominal regions and four abdominal quadrants.

The four quadrants are
1. Right upper quadrant
2.  Left upper quadrant
3.   Right lower quadrant
4.   Left lower quadrant

The nine regions in which the abdomen is divided are
1. Left hypochondriac
2. Right hypochondriac
3.  Epigastric
4.  Right lumbar
5.  Left lumbar
6.   Umbilical
7.   Right iliac
8.   Left iliac
9.   Hypogastric


Why the language of anatomy is important?

The language of anatomy is important because this standard anatomical terminology ensures that anatomists and doctors have a common method of communicating.

These anatomical terms help students to avoid confusions.

With the help of these terms, you can find the location of internal organs and also you relate it with other body parts.

summary language of anatomy

The language of anatomy is a collection of described terms that are used in every book of anatomy. these are the terms that make it easy to learn anatomy.  Just like the subdivisions of anatomy these terms are also classified into various categories. These categories include terms according to the position, terms according to the direction, and terms according to various regions. The most important in these terms are the planes of the body. These terms are helpful in finding the location of internal structures and in medical imaging. If you want to learn anatomy first learn these terms.