How Medical Terms for Parts of the Human Anatomy Originated With Names of Familiar Items

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In a rather articulate episode of their incredibly informative whiteboard series for Mental Floss , linguist Arika Okrent and illustrator Sean O’Neill verbally and visually explain the descriptive origins of medical terms, specifically how familiar items were used to name different parts of the human anatomy.

Hidden metaphors in anatomical terms. Many of our words for body parts can be traced back to words for the things they once reminded people of. …Whether it’s from how they function or how they look, the terms of human anatomy can reveal a history of hidden meanings.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.