Sunday, 11 November 2012

Little Known Body Parts

Perhaps that should be body parts with names one rarely hears?

This thought came to mind by way of a pub quiz when one of those standard trivia questions came out. The question was “What is the name of the groove between your nose and lips?” to which the answer is, of course, the ‘philtrum’. (Yes, of course I got it wrong.) However just in case someone asks similar questions in the future, I have put together the following selection.

The outside part of the ear is known as the ‘auricle’. That fleshy part which means we have two nostrils and not one is correctly called ‘columella nasi’. Up a bit higher and, unibrow wearers excepted, we find the ‘glabella’ between the eyebrows. Nearby is the point where the nose meets the forehead, or the ‘nasion’. David Bowie is an example of a ‘heterochromatic’ individual, for his eyes are different colours (one brown and one blue). Talking of eyes the white part should correctly be referred to as the ‘sclera’. Round the back is the nape of the neck, or rather the ‘niddick’. You don’t have warts you have kerotosas. Perhaps the beauticians among you (I’ve never met one, never needed to) are aware the half moons on your fingernails are correctly called ‘lunula’. While on the subjects of hands the fleshy part between thumb and index finger is your ‘thenar’…. ….. and the space between those two digits is the ‘purlicue’. And a little lower those creases around your wrist are not ‘creases around your wrist’ but ‘rasceta’

Before anyone writes to me I am well aware the following three do not qualify as parts of the body but I simply liked the words so much I could not leave them out. Pandiculating is the correct term for ‘yawning’. Borborygmus sufferers should be fed, it describes ‘tummy rumbling’. And ear wax sounds much better if said to be cerumen.

We would all do well to commit this list to memory. Especially a couple of individuals whose contribution to the annual holiday trek which features as many quiz nights as possible has been limited to ‘netball’ and ‘Iron Maiden’. You know who you are.

I would welcome any suggestions for themes or subjects, or even specific words to examine the origins, meanings and etymologies. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. I once gave a character in a novel wind just so I could incorporate the sentence: 'Jim’s stomach gurgled borborygmically something that sounded not unlike, “Uh, oh.”' Similarly in another book I gave a barmaid big boobs just so I could have them jactitate. I recently had cause to look up the word 'rheum'. I've been aware of the term 'rheumy eyes' for many years (and had simply assumed it meant watery eyes) but not so. Like most terms for a bodily secretion or excretion 'rheum' is better known by a euphemism like 'eye gunk' or 'sleep'. It might be an interesting exercise to see what slang expressions exist for body parts, e.g. cankle or noggin.