There are thousands of anatomical parts that have special names, sometimes named after an individual, and some in reference to historical myths. Like the Scottish word gowpen, some are only regionally known. Here are six body parts with colorful names along with a bit of their histories.
The Achilles Tendon at the back of the lower leg is the thickest tendon in the human body and serves to attach the calf muscles to the heel. The oldest known record of the tendon being named for Achilles is 1693 and was called “the cord of Achilles.”
According to the Greek myth, Achilles was the son of the mortal, Peleus, and the sea nymph, Thetis. When Achilles was an infant, his mother held him by the heel and dipped him in the River Styx to render his body invulnerable. As the heel by which she held him was not immersed in the water, it was his one vulnerable spot. He was eventually killed by a poison arrow to the heel.
The Adam’s Apple is the lump or protrusion formed by the angle of the thyroid cartilage surrounding the larynx seen especially in males.
The name goes back to the biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As the tale goes, Adam ate a piece of forbidden fruit and a part of it got stuck in his throat. The idea that the forbidden fruit was an apple appeared around the 12th century. Some researchers suggest that the apple got the raw deal from an unfortunate pun: the Latin word malus means both “apple” and “evil.”
Anatomical Snuff Box
The Anatomical Snuff Box is a triangular deepening on the dorsal radial aspect of the hand. Make a thumbs-up sign and a hollow will form under the base of your thumb between the two tendons.
It gets its name from the 18th and 19th-century practice of inhaling through the nose or “snorting” powdered tobacco, known as snuff, from this convenient receptacle.
Dimples of Venus
The dimples on the lower back are known as the Dimples of Venus. They’re created by a short ligament that attaches your superior iliac spine and your skin.
They have long been considered an attractive feature, hence being named after the Roman goddess of beauty. Though lower body fat and better muscle definition might make them more likely to appear, they’re thought to be genetic and seem to be more common in women.
Running down the inside part of your elbow is a nerve called the ulnar nerve. This nerve lets your brain know about feelings and sensations in your fourth and fifth fingers. It’s also one of the nerves that control movement in your hand.
When you bump the nerve against the humerus, the long bone that starts at your elbow and up to your shoulder, you get a strange jolt or sensation in your elbow known as your funny bone.
Morton’s Toe is a condition in which your second toe is longer than your hallux, or big toe. The name derives from the surname of American orthopedic surgeon, Dudley Joy Morton (1884–1960). The condition has been referred to with a variety of names: Greek foot, royal toe, turkey toe, shepherd’s toe, coup d’etoe, and Viking toe.
This foot shape was considered to be a beauty ideal by the Ancient Greeks and can be seen in many ancient paintings and statues. Arguably the most famous and probably longest Morton’s Toe ever is found on the Statue of Liberty.
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