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from the Department of Anatomy, University of New South Wales, Sidney Australia,



A-band abb. of anisotropic band G. anisos = unequal + tropos = turning; meaning having not equal properties in every direction; transverse bands in living skeletal muscle which rotate the plane of polarised light, cf. I-band.


Abbé, Ernst. 1840-1905. German physicist; mathematical analysis of optics as a basis for constructing better microscopes; devised oil immersion lens; Abbé condenser.


absorption L. absorbere = to suck up.


acervulus L. = sand, gritty; brain sand (cf. psammoma body).


acetylcholine an ester of choline found in many tissue, synapses & neuromuscular junctions, where it is a neural transmitter.


acetylcholinesterase enzyme at motor end-plate responsible for rapid destruction of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.


acidophilic adj. L. acidus = sour + G. philein = to love; affinity for an acidic dye, such as eosin staining cytoplasmic proteins.


acinus (-i) L. = a juicy berry, a grape; applied to small, rounded terminal secretory units of compound exocrine glands that have a small lumen (adj. acinar).


acrosome G. akron = extremity + soma = body; head of spermatozoon.


actin polymer protein filament found in the intracellular cytoskeleton, particularly in the thin (I-) bands of striated muscle.


adenohypophysis G. ade = an acorn + hypophyses = an undergrowth; anterior lobe of hypophysis (cf. pituitary).


adenoid G. " + -oeides = in form of; in the form of a gland, glandular; the pharyngeal tonsil.


adipocyte L. adeps = fat (of an animal) + G. kytos = a container; cells responsible for storage and metabolism of lipids, found in white fat and brown fat.


adipose adj. L. adeps = fat + G. osis = a condition of.


adluminal adj. L. ad = towards + lumen = a hole; adjacent to lumen.


adnexa L. ad = to + nexus = bound; accessory parts of a structure, e.g., the adnexa of the eye.


adrenal L. ad = to, at + ren = kidney; the suprarenal gland.


adrenergic adj. L. " + " + G. ergon = work; applied to nerves which release "noradrenalin" (norepinephrine) at their terminals.


adventitia L. adventicius = coming from the outside; outermost connective tissual covering of an organ, e.g., the outer coat of a blood vessel is its tunica adventitia.


afferent adj. L. ad = to + ferre = to bear, carry, produce; passing towards, centripetal, e.g., sensory nerves are afferent nerves with respect to the brain and spinal cord; afferent arteriole of the renal glomerulus.


agranulocyte L. a = without; a white blood cell without large numbers of cytoplasmic granules but containing some azurophilic granules, e.g., monocyte, lymphocyte.


albicans adj. L. = whitish; e.g., corpus albicans (corpora albicantia) of the ovary.


albuginea adj. L. albus = white; firm white fibrous tissue, e.g., near the surface of the testis or ovary (first used to describe aqueous humour, then sclera, of eye).


Alcian blue commercial name for dye indicating mucins.


aldehyde fuschin purple dye for elastin.


alimentary L. alimentum = nourishment.


alpha cell acidophilic cell of adenohypophysis; acidophilic cell secreting glucagon of pancreatic islets of Langerhans


alveolus (-i) L. = a small hollow, basin or flask (dim. of alveus = a belly, tub); applied to air-cell in lungs; large terminal secretory units of some exocrine glands with relatively thin walls (cf. acinus); tooth socket; adj. alveolar.


amacrine G. a = without + makros = long; a cell in the inner nuclear layer of retina without a long (axonal) process.


ameloblast OF. esmail = enamel + G. blastos = germ; cell giving rise to tooth enamel.


amitosis G. a = without + mitos = thread; direct cell division without appearance of visible chromosomes.


amnion G. Amnion = nickname for a goddess of childbirth: Eileithyia of Amnisus (or Amnias), which was the port of the land of Knossos in Crete; amnion is also Greek for a little lamb; inner of the fetal membranes forming a thin sac around embryo or fetus, and subsequently fusing with chorion.


amoeboid G. amiobe = change + -oeides = form of; having motion like an amoeba, a protozoon which continually changes its shape; of the movements of a leucocyte.


amorphous G. a = not + morphe = form; lacking structural definition.


ampulla L. ampla = full + bulla = vase; a jar or flask; a local widening in a tube; duodenal ampulla of Vater, q.v.


amylacea cf. corpus amylaceum.


anaphase G. ana = up, back, again + phasis = phase, stage; mitotic phase where chromatids separate.


anastomosis G. " + stoma = an opening; natural communication between two vessels (adj. anastomotic).


androgen G. andros = man + gennan = to produce; male hormone.


aneuploidy G. an = without + eu = good + ploos = folded + -oeides = shape of; of a cell nucleus with more or less than the correct diploid number of chromosomes.


angiology G. angeion = a vessel + logos = study; first used to describe a surgical procedure for exposing temporal artery; later, the study of blood vessels.


Angström, Anders Jonas. 1814-1879. Swedish physicist; unit of measurement; 1 Angström (symbol Å) = 0.1 nanometer.


aniline blue A. anil, indigo plant; dye for collagen etc.


anisotropic G. anisos = unequal + tropos = a turning; having properties that are not the same in all directions; able to change the plane of polarization of light.


anlage (-n) Ge. an = on + legen = to lay, place; a primordium; an incipient structure.


ansa nephronis L. ansa = bucket handle, sandle loop + nephronis = of a nephron; hair-pin bend in the straight tubules of a nephron of the kidney; cf. Henle; also ansa subclavia; ansa hypoglossi.


ansa subclavia L. = sympathetic nerve loop passing anterior and posterior to subclavian artery.


antrum (-ra) L. = a cave, cavity; a nearly-closed cavity or bulge.


anulus (or annulus) L. = a little ring, dim. L. anus; a finger-ring; the fourth finger itself.


anulus fibrosus (anuli fibrosi or annuli fibrosi) L. = little ring of fibres; lamellae of collagen fibres surrounding nucleus pulposus of intervertebral disc.


aorta G. aeiro = I lift up (something), then G. aorter = the strap of a knapsack hung from the shoulders; a butcher's "pluck" of thoracic viscera; largest artery of the thorax (the heart being like a sac, and the aorta, a strap).


apical adj. L. = apex, tip.


apocrine G. apo = from, away + krinein = to separate; budding-off of apical cytoplasm in secretory cells.


aponeurosis G. " + neuron = tendon, sinew (later, nerve); an expanded flat connective tissue sheet to which muscle fibres are attached (Galen, 180)


apoptosis G. apo = from + ptosis = a falling off (of a leaf); naturally occurring cell death; adj. apoptotic (second p is silent).


appendix testis L. ab = from + pendere = to hang + testis = of the testis; hydatid of Morgagni, q.v.


appendix vermiformis L. ab = from + pendere = to hang + vermis = worm + forma = form; a worm-shaped attachment at the beginning of the large intestine.


appendices epiploicae L. " + G. epiploon = a net; small pockets of peritoneum filled with fat attached to the colon; cf. epiploic.


apposition L. ad = to + ponere = to set, place; placed in contiguity; juxtaposition.


appositional growth L. " ; growth on a pre-existing surface; growth at periphery.


APUD amine-precursor uptake and decarboxylation; class of endocrine cells.


aqueous humour L. aqua = water + humour = fluid; fluid of low viscosity in anterior and posterior chambers of eye.


arachnoid adj. G. arachne = spider + -oeides = form; resembling a web; first applied to scum on urine; applied to cobweb-like middle layer of the three meninges of the brain (Amsterdam, 1664).


arachnoid granulations protrusions of arachnoid into superior sagittal sinus whereby cerebrospinal fluid can pass into the blood, cf. Pacchionian bodies.


arbor vitae L. arbor = tree + vitae = of life; cedar tree; the white matter seen in a median section of the cerebellum.


arbor vitae uteri cf. palmate folds (of uterine cervical canal).


arborisation from L. arbor = tree; branching as in a tree.


area cribrosa L. area = a space + cribrum = a sieve; surface of renal papilla perforated by papillary ducts of Bellini, q.v.; cf. cribriform.


areola corruption of L. aureolus = golden; pigmented area around nipple of breast.


areolar L. areola = a small open space (dim. of L. area = a space); loose, as in loose connective tissue.


argentaffin L. argentum = silver + affinis = associated with; of cells which can reduce silver from its salts without special pretreatment; e.g., some entero-endocrine cells producing serotonin.


argyrophilic G. argyros = silver + philein = to love; of cells or structures reducing silver from its salts after special pretreatment with a reducing agent; e.g., reticular fibres.


arrector pili (arrectores pilorum) L. arrector = raiser + pilus = hair; autonomically innervated smooth muscles oriented obliquely in dermis, creating "gooseflesh".


artefact L. arte = by art + factus = made; inadvertent abnormality in tissue arising during histological processing; also artifact.


arteriole a small artery, q.v.


artery G. aer = air + terein = to keep; hence L. arteria = windpipe; arteries after death often were seen to be empty of blood, i.e., to contain air.


articular L. articulatus = a little joint (dim. of L. artus = a joint); of cartilage covering the surface of bones at synovial joints.


Asselli, Gaspar. 1581-1626. Pavia anatomist, surgeon; discoverd lacteals in 1622 during vivisection of a dog.


astrocyte G. astron = a constellation, a single star + kytos = hollow vessel (cell); star-shaped neuroglial cell.


atavistic L. atavus = great grandfather's grandfather, ancestor.


atelectasis G. a = without + telos = completion, end + ektasis = expansion; imperfect expansion, collapsed condition of lungs.


atresia G. a = without + tresis = perforation; refers to a congenital absence or closure of a normal opening.


atretic follicle an ovarian follicle that fails to mature and dies.


atrophy G. a = without + trophe = food; a wasting or reduction in organ size.


Auerbach, Leopold. 1828-1897. Breslau neuropathologist & anatomist; Auerbach's nerve plexus in external muscle layer of intestinal wall (1862).


autolysis G. auto = self + lysis = dissolution; self-digestion of cells, tissues.


autonomic G. " + nomos = law; self-controlling part of nervous system.


Avicenna 980-1073. Arabian physician; celebrated author whose book Al-qanun fi 't-tibb (Canon medicinae) was used in European universities until about 1650


axis cylinder neurite (q.v.) or axon (q.v.) of a nerve cell.


axon G. = axis; neurite or long process of a neurone, usually conducting efferent nerve signals from the cell body (soma) to the peripheral terminals of the cell; contains axoplasm.


axon hillock cone-shape region of the neuronal soma from which the axon arises.


Azure a commercial name for a type of blue dye.


azurophilic OF. azur = blue + G. philein = to love; refers to reddish-purple granules in some leucocytes when stained by Romanowsky method.



bacterium (-ia) G. bakterion = a rod.


Baillarger, Jules Gabriel François. 1806-1890. French neurologist; striae of Baillarger are two bands of fibres in grey matter of cerebral cortex running parallel to its surface; cf. Gennari.


Barr, Murray. 1908- ? Canadian anatomist; B. body = intranuclear satellite = sex-chromatin mass seen in a certain proportion of the cells of a female.


Bartholin, Thomas. 1616-1680. Danish mathematician and philosopher, doctor in Basel, anatomist at Cophenhagen; discovered thoracic duct and lymphatic system in 1653; wrote a textbook of anatomy.


Bartholin, Casper. 1655-1738 (son of Thomas). Philosopher professor, then Deputy of Finances (civil service) in Copenhagen; Bartholin's mucous glands of vestibule and labia minora in female reproductive system (1677).


basal body G. basis = base; the root of a cilium.


basal lamina G. basis = base + L. lamina = thin plate; term for a layer seem in the electron microscope of thick glycocalyx at base of epithelial cells; a sublayer of the basement membrane.


basement membrane histological term for extracellular layer at base of epithelium, seen in the light microscope after use of certain dyes; includes basal lamina; constitutes the interface between epithelium and connective tissue.


basilic A. al-basiliq = vein on inner aspect of arm (G. basilikos = royal, hence prominent?); vein used for blood-letting.


basket cell a type of cell partially enclosing another like a basket; e.g., stellate myo-epithelial cells enclosing an acinus of a gland; cerebellar nerve cells whose branches form a basket around the Purkinje cells.


basophil type of leucocyte characterised by basophilic cytoplasmic granules.


basophilic G. basis = base + philein = to love; affinity for a basic dye, e.g. haematoxylin, gallocyanin, toluidine blue.


Bellini, Lorenzo. 1643-1704. Mathematician, anatomist at Pisa; terminal collecting tubules of B. in kidney (1662).


Berengarius of Carpi. 1470-1530. Anatomist at Bologna & Pavia; described pineal gland and sphenoidal air sinuses.


Bernard, Claude. 1813-1878. Sorbonne physiologist; suggested idea of internal secretions and established science of endocrinology; developed concept of constancy of internal environment of body (milieu interne).


Bertin, Exupère Joseph. 1712-1781. French anatomist; renal columns of Bertin; conchae of sphenoid bone.


beta cell basophilic cell of adenohypohysis; basophilic cell secreting insulin of pancreatic islets of Langerhans.


Betz, Vladimir Alexandrovich. 1834-1894. Kiev anatomist; Betz cells are large pyramidal cells in 5th layer of motor cortex (1874), giving rise to a small number of fibres in the pyramidal tract.


Bichat, Marie François Xavier. 1771-1802. Paris anatomist, a founder of histology; classification of 23 basic tissues; Bichat's tunica intima; B's internal elastic lamina; B's fat pad in cheek.


bicornuate L. bis = twice + cornua = horns; uterus with 2 horns found in many animals, and occasionally in woman.


bicuspid L. bis = twice + cuspis = a point; of lymphatic valves, mitral valve, premolar tooth.


Bielschowsky, Max. 1869-1940. Berlin neurologist; developed staining and silver impregnation techniques for histological study of nervous system.


bifurcate L. bis = twice + furca = fork; divide into two branches.


bile L. bilus = bile; cf. choledochus.


Billroth, C.A. Theodor. 1829-1894 Austrian surgeon; B.'s cords = the components of red pulp occurring between the venous sinuses of the spleen.


bipolar cell L. bis = twice + polus = pole; nerve cell with two processes, one being a neurite (q.v.) and the other, a dendrite (q.v.). NB. all sensory nerve cells of the embryo are initally bipolar, becoming pseudounipolar (q.v.) with growth, except for the vestibulocochlear ganglion cells.


blastema G. = a sprout; embryonic tissue giving rise to a particular structure; an anlage, q.v.


body cavity a coelom, q.v.


body wall the part of the body which surrounds a coelom, q.v.; paries, q.v.


Boerhaave, Hermann. 1668-1738. Leiden physician; sweat glands; wrote famous textbook Istitutiones medicae (1708).


Botallo, Leonardo. 1530-? Pavia anatomist, surgeon; duct of B. = ductus arteriosus.


bouton terminal (boutons terminaux) F. = terminal button or knob; bulb-like expansion at a synapse of the tip of an axon.


Bowman, William (Sir). 1816-1892. London physician, anatomist & ophthalmologist; B's capsule and B.'s space of renal corpuscle (1842); B's elastic membrane of anterior corneal epithelium (1847).


brain sand acervulus, q.v.; corpora arenaceum, q.v.; psammoma bodies, q.v.


Broca, Pierre Paul. 1824-1880. Paris surgeon, pathologist, anthropologist; B's convolution = area for motor speech is posterior part of inferior frontal gyrus of left hemisphere (1861).


Brodmann, Korbinian. 1868-1918. Armenian anatomist; described 52 allegedly discrete areas of human cerebral cortex by transferring results of studies in monkey brain to human.


bronchiole L. bronchiolus = small bronchus; air passage in lung.


bronchus (-i) G. bronchos = windpipe; later, branches of the trachea.


Brown, Robert. 1773-1858 British Museum botanist; described nucleus of plant cells; Brownian movement.


Bruch, Karl Wilhelm Ludwig. 1819-1884. Anatomist at Basle & Giessen; B's membrane = glassy basement membrane of the retinal (pigment) epithelium (1844); lymphatic follicles of palpebral conjunctiva.


Brücke, Ernst Wilhelm von. 1819- 1892 Vienna physiologist and microscopic anatomist; B.'s muscle = meridional fibres of ciliary muscle.


Brunn, Albert von. 1849-1895 German anatomist; B's membrane = the olfactory epithelium; B.'s cell nests = glandlike invaginations of epithelium forming cell masses, or cell pearls, in lower urinary tract.


Brunner, Johann Konrad. 1653-1727. Professor of Medince at Heidelberg; B's glands = compound mucus-secreting glands of duodenal submucosa (1687).


brush border term of light microscopy for taller (coarser) microvilli, e.g., on kidney tubule cells; cf. striated border.


buccal L. bucca = cheek; related to cheek or mouth.


buccinator L. buccina = trumpet; muscle which prevents the vestibule of the mouth being distended in trumpet playing.


buffer Mid. Eng. buffe = to deaden the shock of; applied to a substance which when added to an acid or a base, preserves the hydrogen ion concentration.


bulbar L. bulbus = a swollen root; of eye-ball; of urethra; of olfactory tract; of aorta; of a hair; of embryonic heart.


Burdach, Karl Friedrich. 1776-1847. Anatomist at Dorpat, Königsberg & Breslau; B's column = cuneate fasciculus of spinal cord (1819).


bursa (-ae) L. from G. = a leather sac, a purse; a sac associated with tendons or muscles, containing synovial fluid.