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4 Steps to Memorize Anatomical Terms



There are around eight thousand Anatomical Terms to learn in order to understand the Macroscopic and Microscopic structures that comprise the Human Body. This may seem a huge amount, but many ‘names’ are used in everyday language such as ‘brain’, ‘forearm’, ‘ear’ etc.

Depending on where you go to university or college and which language you speak and study in, Anatomy is taught differently. This may be in the order, as in head to toe, superficial structures to deep or regional instead of single structures. The most common terms are in English or Latin nomenclatures. Either way, here are some techniques that will help you memorize this new language.

Memorize terms


When you make a study schedule and allocate time for learning Anatomy Terms, make sure you calculate the approximate time you will need to learn the new words as you go through each new chapter. Start with the first lesson and use the time it took you as an estimate, adjusting the time slot as you go. If you don’t learn the terms properly up front, you will have difficulty understanding the theory and others will have difficulty understanding you!


Although everyone has their own way of doing things, the first time you see a particular area of the body, be it on a Cadaver or in an Anatomy Atlas, you need to get your bearings; take a look for long enough so that you can visualize the area in your head. Even if you go to practicals, it is a good idea to go over what you learned at home, both before and after, to make sure you go in prepared to follow the instructor and to solidify your knowledge and ensure your understanding after.


Using an Anatomy Atlas, either online or in print, start with the larger structures and then when you feel you know them go onto the smaller ones. Do this several times and then move on once you have tested yourself. Here are some techniques that will make learning each to words quicker and easier.

  1. Link the word to the structure by creating a mental picture
  2. Find the meaning of the word (which is usually Latin or Greek) by investing in a Medical Terminology Script or taking a course (usually the University includes this in the Curriculum).
  3. Break the word down and make it recognisable for yourself by using tip number 3...
  4. Create your own abbreviations, songs, poems, acronyms etc. Basically if it works for you it works! Write the words out as your learn them, this will help with memorisation and with spelling!
  5. Use flashcards, either in print commercial, online or homemade, so you can remember and examine yourself!


Give yourself a little exam once you have memorised the words. Take a small scrap of paper or a post it note and cover the labels. If you can’t remember some of the words go back and repeat the steps from ‘Memorisation’. If you are using kenHub’s online Atlas and Quizzes, you will be given a grade and the structures you didn’t know will be shown to you. Also, by signing up for Daily Anatomy, you can be tested everyday!

If you want to save time improving your anatomy knowledge try the most efficient way to learn anatomy and register at The online anatomy trainer makes sure you learn anatomy the fastest, in the most engaging and guided way possible.

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Photo credit: ThoroughlyReviewed via VisualHunt / CC BY

Author: Dr. Alexandra Sieroslawska

© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

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