The naming of muscles is essential in understanding the anatomical as well as physiological aspects of skeletal muscles. The skeletal muscles are voluntary and thus are controlled by the somatic nervous system. These muscles are joined to the bones by tendons and are responsible for various bodily movements.
The naming of muscles was done in Greek and Latin by ancient Greeks and Romans who started studying human anatomy. Hence, the muscle names are in Latin and Greek terminology. The naming is done under certain criteria. Various characteristics determine the identity of muscles. The titles provided to muscles help understand the function, position, movement, and shape of the respective muscles. The skeletal muscles are vast in number, and thus their names are hard to remember. However, once the terms in the name of a muscle are understood individually, it becomes easier to designate a given muscle. Therefore, remembering the derivation of terms included in a muscle name makes it easier to learn various muscle names.
Criteria of naming the skeletal muscles
The unfamiliar words of Latin and Greek can be learned by understanding the etymology. The etymology describes the origin and derivation of a word in a language and thus requires deep concentration in mastering the vocabulary involved in anatomy.
The names of the skeletal muscles depend on various criteria that describe the characteristics of the muscle. These are as follows:
Naming the muscles based on their shape like ‘trapezius,’ ‘serratus,’ ‘orbicularis,’ and more.
Naming the muscles based on their size compared to the relating muscles in a particular area such as ‘brevus,’ ‘major,’ ‘minor,’ ‘longus,’ and so on.
Naming the muscles depending on their position or location in the body and where they are attached to the bones like ‘frontalis,’ tibialis anterior,’ and so on.
Naming the muscles based on their action and origin includes ‘extension’, ‘flexion’, ‘adduction’, and so on.
The location of the muscles is the most used characteristic for naming the muscles. However, the origin of muscles also plays an essential role in their naming. Muscles generally have two attachment points that help them to move. The point where the muscles stay static and do not move is called the origin of the muscle. On the other hand, the point of the muscle pulled to create movement is called the insertion point. The muscles move towards the origin from the insertion point during a muscle movement.
Understanding the names of muscles through examples
The easiest way to remember the pronunciation and meaning of anatomical terms is to know the basic information of the name from where it is derived. To understand the muscle names properly, some examples should be studied.
Some muscles like the muscles of the buttocks and the frontalis muscle are named based on their location. The muscles such as the gluteus maximus and the gluteus minimus reflect their sizes as largest and smallest, respectively. The tibialis anterior muscle indicates the position of the bone in the body with which it is associated. Finally, the quadriceps is a muscle whose name refers directly to the number of muscles in its group.
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