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




labial adj. L. labialis = of the lips, L. labium = lip, rim of a vessel.


labyrinth G. labyrinthos = maze; canals (bony labyrinth - Fallopius, c. 1550) and ducts (membranous labyrinth) of inner ear; renal labyrinth = mass of convoluted tubules of the kidney cortex; hepatic labyrinth = all sinusoidal spaces in liver.


lacis cells polkissen cells, q.v.


lacrimal adj. L. lacrima = a tear-drop.


lacrimal caruncle caruncle found on the conjunctiva of the inner canthus of the eye.


lacteal L. lac = milk (lacteus = of milk, lactare = to suckle); intestinal lymphatic, containing chyle after a fatty meal.


lactiferous L. " + ferre = to carry.


lacuna (-ae) L. = a pit, a small hollow space, a dimple, dim L. lacus = lake.


lagena L. lagynos = a flask; closed apex of cochlear duct.


lamella (-ae) L. = a little plate, a scale, dim. L. lamina.


lamellar bone secondary bone; of collagen & osteocytes arranged into Haversian systems & interstitial laminae.


lamina (-ae) L. = plate or layer; hence adj. laminated.


lamina propria (-ae -ae) L. " + propria = belonging to; layer of connective tissue under epithelium.


Langer, Carl Ritter von Edenberg. 1819-1887 Vienna anatomist; L.'s lines = natural cleavage lines of skin due to pattern of fibres in dermis (1862).


Langerhans, Paul. 1847-1888 Freiburg anatomist & pathologist; islets of L. = endocrine tissue in pancreas (1869); L. cell = a cell type of epidermis.


Langhans, Theodor. 1839-1915 German anatomist & pathologist; L. layer = cytotrophoblast layer of chorionic villi.


Lanterman, A. J. (no dates) American anatomist at Strasbourg; clefts of Schmidt-Lanterman = oblique clefts in myelin sheath (1877); internodes of L.; cf. Schmidt.


lanugo L. = down (from L. lana = wool); downy hair of body, especially cheeks; hair of fetus from fifth month of development.


Leeuwenhoek, Antony van. 1632-1723 Dutch draper, civil servant & amateur microscopist; perfected the simple microscope with a single glass bead as a lens; described accurately the form of spermatozoa; described striations in skeletal muscle, bacteria, dental canals, bony canals, optic nerve fascicles, etc.; L.'s canals = Haversian canals (Havers, q.v.).


Leishman, William B. 1865-1926 British medical officer; L.'s stain for parasites, and blood films.


lens L. = a lentil; referring to shape of crystalline structure in the eye.


leptomeniges (pl.) G. leptos = thin + menix = a membrane; pia mater & arachnoid taken together (opposite to pachymenix, q.v.)


leucocyte G. leukos = white + kytos = hollow vessel; white blood cell (also leukocyte).


leucopoiesis G. " + poiein = to make; production of white blood cells.


Leydig, Franz von. 1821-1908 Würzburg, Bonn histologist; a founder of comparative histology; L. cells = interstitial cells of testis.


Lieberkühn, Johann Nathanael. 1711-1756 Berlin anatomist & physician; crypts of L. = simple tubular intestinal glands (1745).


lien L. = the spleen (? from G. leios = soft, smooth).


ligamentum nuchae L. ligamen = a bandage + -mentum = a suffix denoting an instrument of the action + corruption of A. nukha = upper end of spinal cord (medulla oblongata), later the neck itself; the dense elastic ligament found in neck of grazing animals, e.g., cattle.


limbus L. = border, edge; e.g., limbus of the cornea at its junction with sclera; spiral limbus, q.v.


limen L. = threshold, a still; limen insulae = medial part of apex of insula; limen nasi = ridge marking entrance to nasal cavity.


lingual adj. L. lingua = tongue.


lipofuscin G. lipos = fat + L. fuscus = brown; yellow-brown intracellular pigment accumulating in old muscle cells & neurons.


liquor folliculi L. = fluid of a follicle (ovarian).


Lissauer, Heinrich. 1861-1891 Breslau physician; L.'s tract = marginal zone of dorsal horn of spinal cord.


Littré, Alexis. 1658-1726 Paris anatomist & surgeon; glands of L. = mucous glands in penile urethra (1700).


lobule L. lobulus = a small lobe, dim. L. lobus = lobe, from G. lobos.


locule L. loculus = a small place; dim. of L. locus; a cavity or chamber; used to describe unilocular & multilocular adipocytes.


locus cinereus L. locus = a place + cinereus = grey; a pigmented area in superior part of floor of 4th ventricle; also called locus coeruleus (L. coeruleus = dark blue).


Lower, Richard. 1631-1691 London physician; experimeted with blood transfusion; described vortex of cardiac muscle; L.'s tubercle = a crest between the inferior and the superior venae cavae in the posterior wall of the right atrium.


lumen L. = light; space enclosed by tubular or vesicular structure; hence luminal.


Luschka, Hubert. 1820-1875 Tubingen anatomist; foramina of L. = two lateral apertures of fourth ventricle (1855, 1863); glands of L. = glomus coccygeum, q.v.; tonsil of L. = pharyngeal tonsil.


lutein cells L. luteus = yellow; cells of corpus luteum containing much lipid and appearing yellowish.


luteum L. luteus = yellow; cf. corpus luteum.


Luxol fast blue stain for myelin sheath of nerve fibres.


lymph L. lympha = pure spring water, transparent fluid; found in lymphatics (appears milky in intestinal lymphatics).


lymph node L. " + nodus = knot; first described as lymph glands; organs filtering lymph and producing lymphocytes.


lymphatic adj. L. lymphaticus = frantic, panic-stricken (related to rabies or hydrophobia); now related to lymph; also a lymphatic capillary.


lymphocyte L. lympha = transparent fluid + kytos = hollow vessel; a type of white blood cell, found in tissues and organs, also found in blood and lymph.


lymphoid adj. L. lympha + G. -oeides = form of.


lymphokine L. " + G. kinesis = movement; chemotactic substance produced by T-lymphocytes attracting macrophages to site of infection.


lysis G. = dissolution.


lysosome G. " + soma = body; membrane-bound cell organelle, part of intracellular digestive system.


M-line Ge. mitte = middle; centre line of H-band of a sarcomere.


maceration L. macerare = to make soft; process of softening a solid by steeping it in a liquid.


macrophage G. makros = large + phagein = to eat, hence big-eater; connective tissue cell (derived from monocyte) digesting foreign particles, etc.


macroscopic G. " + skopein = to examine; pertaining to the anatomy seen with the naked eye, i.e., gross anatomy.


macula adherens (maculae adherentes) L. = a spot, a mark + adhaerere = to stick to.


macula cribosa L. " + cribrum = a sieve; site of foramina transmit nerves to saccule, utricle & ampullae of membranous labyrinth.


macula densa L. " + densa = thick; local accumulation of nuclei in distal convoluted tubule of kidney; cf. juxtaglomerular complex.


macula lutea L. " + luteus = yellow; yellow region in the fundus of the eye containing the fovea centralis.


macula sacculi L. " + sacculus = little sac; plaque of thickened sensory epithelium in wall of saccule of membranous labyrinth.


macula utriculi L. " + utriculus = little bag; plaque of thickened sensory epithelium in wall of utricle of membranous labyrinth.


Magendie, François. 1783-1855 Paris pathologist & physiologist; foramen of M. = median aperture of fourth ventricle (1828).


Maier, Rudolf. 1824-1888 German physician; sinus of M. = a depression in lacrimal sac into which open the canaliculi of the lacrimal gland.


malleus L. = a hammer; one of auditory ossicles shaped like round-headed Roman hammer used by butchers for stunning oxen.


Mallory, Frank. 1862-1941 American pathologist; histological stains; M.'s trichrome.


Malpighi, Marcello. 1628-1694 Rome and Bologna anatomist, a founder of microscopic anatomy; Malpighian capsule = splenic capsule; M. corpuscles = white pulp of spleen (1669); M. corpuscles = renal corpuscles; rete Malpighii = stratum germinativum of epidermis; pulmonary alveoli of M.; canal of M. = longitudinal duct of epoöphoron.


mammary adj. L. mamma = breast.


mamillary adj. L. = like a little breast.


manchette F. = a wristband or cuff; collar-like structure forming at neck of developing spermatozoon during spermiogenesis.


Masson, C.L. Pierre. Montreal pathologist 1880-1959; histological trichrome stain.


mast cell Ge. masten = to (over-) feed; connective tissue cell (cf. Ehrlich) filled with many granules of heparin, histamine.


matrix L.= a female animal kept for breeding purposes; a synonym for L. uterus = womb; later, the material which harbours something, as in "mother-of-pearl"; the ground substance of cartilage harbouring the chondrocytes.


Mayer, Paul. German histologist 1848-1923; stain of haematoxylin, alum and iodate.


Meckel, Johann Friedrich (the elder). 1724-1774 Berlin anatomist, botanist & gynaecologist; M.'s cave = dural space lodging the trigeminal ganglion (1748); M.'s ganglion = pterygopalatine ganglion.


Meckel, Johann Friedrich (the younger, grandson of above). 1781-1833 Halle anatomist & surgeon; M.'s cartilage = a bar of cartilage around which embryo's mandible develops (1820); M.'s diverticulum = congenital diverticulum of ileum.


meconium G. mekonion = discharge from bowels of a newborn infant, from G. mecon = poppy (discharge thought by Aristotle to resemble poppy juice).


mediastinum probably a contraction of L. per medium tensum = that which is tight down the middle (not from L. mediastinus = a subordinate domestic slave, a servant at the public baths in Rome); now refers to the mass of connective tissue in the central zone of a region or organ; the central region of the thorax.


mediastinum cerebri an early term for falx cerebri.


mediastinum testis thickened portion of tunica albuginea on the posterior surface of the testis, making a keel-like projection into the region of the rete testis in the interior; body of Highmore, q.v.


medulla (-ae) L. = pith, marrow, inner portion of an organ (from L. medius = in the middle), in contrast to cortex.


medulla oblongata L. " + a barbarism from L. oblongus = rather long; enlarged portion of spinal cord as it enters foramen magnum of occipital bone; a term introduced by Heister (c. 1740) and Haller (c. 1750) which replaced the earlier, more correct term medulla prolongata (L. prologatus = prolonged); cf. ligamentum nuchae.


medulla spinalis L. = spinal cord.


megakaryocyte G. megas = large + karyon = nucleus + kytos = hollow vessel; giant cell in bone marrow with multilobed nucleus.


Meibom, Heinrich. 1638-1700 Helmstädt physician, historian & poet; Meibomian glands = tarsal glands of eyelid (1666).


meiosis G. meion = less; 1. contraction of the pupil; 2. division of a germ cell (gamete) where the number of chromosomes is halved from diploid to haploid.


Meissner, Georg. 1829-1905 Basle histologist & Göttingen physiologist; M.'s corpuscles = sensory corpuscles in dermal papillae of glabrous skin (1852); M.'s plexus = submucosal plexus in intestine (1862).


melanin G. melas = black; natural intracellular brown pigment in eye, skin, etc. (melancholia = black bile, one of four humours).


melanocyte G. melas = black + kytos = hollow vessel.


melanosome G. " + soma = body; intracellular melanin pigment granules.


membrane any structure in the form of a sheet that separates one region from another, e.g., a layer of cells, a thin layer of connective tissue, a layer of glycocalyx, etc.; plasma (q.v.) membrane = cell membrane.


meniscus G. meniskos = crescent; intra-articular fibrocartilage with crescentic shape.


menix (meninges) G. menix = a membrane, skin on old wine; a membrane in general; specifically, the three membranes around the central nervous system.


menopause G. men = month + pausis = cessation; end of menstrual activity.


menstrual adj. L. menstruus = monthly, from G. men = month; relating to the monthly female sexual cycle.


Merkel, Friedrich Sigmund. 1849-1919 German anatomist; M. cell or M. disc = sensory epithelial cell in stratum basal of epidermis.


merocrine G. meros = a part of + krinein = to separate; exocrine secretion where bulk of cell remains intact during secretion process.


mesangial adj. G. mesos = between + aggeion = a blood vessel (G. "gg" is pronounced "ng"); 1. the mesentery suspending a developing blood vessel; 2. the extravascular tissue of the renal glomerulus.


mesenchyme G. mesos = middle + enchyma = infusion; cells, fibres & fluids derived from mesoderm (middle layer) of embryo.


mesentery G. mesenterion from G. " + enteron = intestine; peritoneal fold encircling most of intestine and reflected onto posterior abdominal wall.


mesoderm G. " + derma = skin; middle cell layer of embryo giving rise to connective tissues, most muscle, circulatory system, urogenital system, etc.


mesonephros G. " + nephros = kidney; embryonic kidney (or Wolffian body) whose function is eventually replaced by metanephros (definitive kidney); middle of 3 stages in animals whose embryos have a pronephros as the first stage.


mesosalpinx G. " + salpinx = tube, trumpet; free margin of broad ligament containing uterine tube.


mesothelium G. " + thele = nipple; epithelium lining coelomic body cavities; most superfical layer of a serous membrane (tunica serosa).


mesovarium NA. = mesentery of the ovary, q.v. ("ovarium" is not Latin).


meta- G. = after, beyond, over.


metachromasia G. " + chroma = colour; change in colour of a dye when it binds to different components of tissue; a metachromatic dye may stain one component differently to the background (or ground substance).


metaphase G. " + phasis = to appear; mitotic stage after prophase when chromosomes appear and line up in equatorial plane.


metaphysis G. " + phyein = to grow; growth region of a long bone, situated between epiphysis and diaphysis.


metaplasia G. " + plasma = something formed; transformation of one kind of tissue into another.


Methyl green a green dye.


microfibril a subunit of a fibril, q.v.


microglia G. mikros = small + glia = glue; a small migratory, phagocytic neuroglial cell of central nervous system.


microscope G. " + skopein = to examine; adj. microscopic, relating to the anatomy seen with a microscope, as opposed to macroscopic anatomy.


microsome G. " + soma = a body; particles derived from centrifugation (at 10,000 times force of gravity) of endoplasmic reticulum.


microtome G " + tome = a cutting, incision; machine for cutting sections for LM.


microvillus G. " + L. villus = tuft of hair; the electron microscopic structure forming striated border of intestinal epithelial cells (Granger & Baker, 1950).


mitochondrion G. mitos = thread + chondrion = grain, granule; cell organelle of variable shape, sometimes thread-like, sometimes granular (Benda, 1897).


mitosis G. " + osis = a condition of; indirect division of somatic cells, in which chromosomes become threads (W. Fleming, 1882); cf. amitosis.


mitral adj. L. mitra from G. = a scarf, a waistband, a turban, a snood (a scarf with strings which could be secured to head); mitral cell = a cell in an olfactory glomerulus, q.v.; mitral valve = the bicuspid left atrioventicular valve.


modiolus L. = a serrated screw or borer; bony axial pillar of cochlea (Eustachius, 1563).


molar L. mola = mill (for grinding).


molecular L. molecula = a little mass;


molecular layer a layer of cerebellar layer consisting mostly of unmyelinated fibres and only a few scattered cells, like the molecules of a gas.


Moll, Jacob Anton. 1832-1914 The Hague ophthalmologist; glands of M. = ciliary glands = apocrine sweat glands of the eyelashes at border of eyelid.


Monro, Alexander (Primus). 1697-1767 Edinburgh anatomist; bursa of M. = bursa intratendinea olecrani.


Monro, Alexander (Secundus). 1733-1817 Succeeded his father (Primus) as Edinburgh anatomist; foramen of M. = interventricular foramen between lateral and third ventricles of brain (1783).


Monro, Alexander (Tertius). 1773-1859 Succeeded his father (Secundus) as Edinburgh anatomist; hypothalamic sulcus of M.


Montgomery, William Fetherston. 1797-1859 Dublin obstetrician; M.'s glands or tubercles = enlarged sebaceous glands projecting from surface of areola of nipple during early pregnancy.


mordant L. mordere = to bite; a substance (e.g., ferric chloride) which allows dye (e.g., Haematoxylin) to bind more efficiently to tissue components.


Morgagni, Giovanni Battista. 1682-1771 Padua anatomist; columns of M. = anal columns; foramen of M. = foramen caecum of tongue; fossa of M. = navicular fossa of urethra; hydatid of M. = appendix testis; lacunae of M. = urethral lacunae; sinus of M. = laryngeal ventricle.


morphology G. morphe = form + logos = study, knowledge.


motile L. motilis = moving; able to move.


motor end-plate a plaque-like site of multiple synapses between a motor nerve and a muscle.


mucin L. mucus from G. muxa = snot, slime; protein constituent of all mucus; occurs as granules in secretory cells.


mucoid L. " + G. -oeides = form; of a type of connective tissue with much mucus; Wharton's jelly.


mucosa (-ae) L. = mucous membrane.


mucus L. = slime (adj. mucous).


Müller, Heinrich. 1820-1864 Würzburg anatomist; M.'s cells or fibres = radial glial cells of retina (1856); M.'s muscle = 1. tarsal or palpebral muscle, 2. circular fibres of ciliary muscle.


Müller, Johannes Peter. 1801-1858 Famous anatomist & physiologist at Berlin (son of a Koblenz bootmaker); teacher of Henle, Virchow, Kölliker, Helmholtz, etc.; Müllerian duct = paramesonephric duct of embryo (1825).


multiparous adj. L. multus = much, many + parire = to bear children.


multipolar L. " + polus = pole; cell with many processes, e.g., a ventral horn motor neurone.


muralium L. murus = a stone wall; system of cells or tissues in interconnected sheets.


muralium osseum L. murus = a stone wall + os = bone; network of cancellous bone.


muscle L. musculus, dim. from G. mys = a mouse, a rat (whose body represents the belly of a muscle, with head and tail representing the tendons).


musculotendinous junction a junction between skeletal muscle and tendon involving endomysium.


myelin G. myelos = marrow; lipoprotein sheath around axons (Virchow, 1854).


myelocoele G. " + koilos = hollow; the marrow cavity of the spine; pathological protrusion of spinal medulla.


myeloid adj. G. " + -oeides = form; of bone marrow tissue.


myenteric G. mys = muscle + enteron = intestine (cf. Auerbach).


myo- G. mys = a mouse, a muscle, q.v.


myocardium G."+ kardia = heart.


myoepithelial a contactile cell derived from ectoderm (as opposed to mesoderm).


myofibril G. mys = a mouse, a muscle + L. fibrilla = small fibre; intracellular arrangement of contractile proteins in myocytes.


myofilament muscle protein filament, made mainly of actin, or myosin.


myometrium G. " + metra = uterus.