Anatomical Terms - dummies

By Maggie Norris, Donna Rae Siegfried

Part of Anatomy and Physiology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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 use the terms in the following list:

  • Anterior or ventral: Toward the front of the body
  • Posterior or dorsal: Toward the back of the 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
  • Deep: Toward the inside of the body
  • Superficial: Toward the outside of the body
  • Parietal: A membrane that covers an internal body wall
  • Visceral: A membrane that covers an organ

Also remember that right and left are that of the patient, not the observer.