Anatomic Terms - dummies

By Maggie Norris, Donna Rae Siegfried

When you’re talking anatomy in a scientific way, everyday words such as front, back, side, above, and below just aren’t precise enough. Instead you use the anatomic terms in the following list:

  • Anterior or ventral: Toward the front of the body

  • Posterior or dorsal: Toward the back of the body

  • Cranial: Head end of body

  • Caudal: Tail end of body

  • Superior: A part above another part

  • Inferior: A part below another part

  • Medial: Toward the midline (median plane) of the body

  • Lateral: Away from the midline of the body; toward the sides

  • Proximal: Toward the point of attachment to the body

  • Distal: Away from the point of attachment to the body

  • Internal: Toward the inside of the body

  • External: Toward the outside of the body

  • Parietal: A membrane that covers an internal body wall

  • Visceral: A membrane that covers an organ