If you’re reading this, you probably know the names of most body parts. But do you know why our various body parts are called what they’re called? It’s important because we use them each and every day. This week we’re delving into the mystery and history of 7 of seven body parts, and discovering how they got their names in the first place.
Body Part 1: “Palm”
It’s an ancient Roman tradition to place a palm leaf in the hands of the winner of a contest during ancient times, something that led to the naming of the underside of your hand.
Body Part 2: “Uvula”
The uvula is that dangling pink thing in the back of your throat, and the name is Latin for “little grape”…probably because that’s what it looks like. A dangling, pink grape.
Body Part 3: “Iris”
Lots of people make the mistake of thinking that this part of your eye is named after the brightly colored, beautiful flower. Lots of people are wrong. Both terms actually come from Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow.
Body Part 4: “Artery”
The name for these blood vessels is actually derived from the Latin and Greek word “arteria”, which quite literally means “air holder”. Ancient anatomists used to believe that arteries were air ducts, since they didn’t hold any blood after death. Since then we’ve learned differently, but the name remains the same.
Body Part 5: “Sartorius Muscle”
In Latin, the word “Sartorius” means tailor. The Sartorius muscle, which is the longest muscle in the human body, ropes around the top of the human thigh and is activated when people sit cross-legged, like tailors used to do when they pinned hems or cuffs.
There’s always something new to be discovered, and our bodies are no exception. To find out about the origins of other body parts’ names, you can check out this article from Reader’s Digest.