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4 Ways to Correctly Pronounce Anatomy Terms


Correct pronounciation

When learning Anatomy, the student is given a list of terms that number in the thousands. It is of paramount importance that these structural names are repeated correctly for others to understand, for Anatomy is a subject whose clinical basis is communication. Without a sound knowledge of Anatomy almost no medical procedures however great or small can be correctly performed. When a medical professional is able to voice that knowledge correctly to the other members of a medical team it only ensures successful healthcare.

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What is pronunciation and why is it important?

Pronunciation or ‘to pronounce’ literally means ‘speak distinctly with organs of speech’. When we first learn to read as children, we learn each letter and how it sounds. Then we progress to small words where we can spell out the letters and then put them together as a word. Finally, we go on to sentences, paragraphs, pages, books etc. The common thread here regardless of the level of difficulty or language is the correct pronunciation of each letter and each word so that both the student understands the word he or she is saying and so do those around them.

Before we know how to read, we can speak. This helps us because we are not learning words, but rather learning what they look like in script form. In Anatomy however, there are many medical terms that aren’t known and they are a mixture of Latin and Greek that are only known to a select few before studying them. This makes their pronunciation much more difficult, because we have never heard or spoken the word we can read.

This article aims to help those who find the pronunciation of Anatomy terms a challenge and to guide them with specific techniques that will make their studies much easier.

American or English?

Before the techniques collected are divulged, it is quite important to be aware of the fact that there are two main Anatomical Nomenclatures: English and Latin. Since this an English article, the same techniques apply to both Nomenclatures, however pronunciation differs depending on the American and English accents. These differences are not big enough to be seen as a mistake, due to the fact that the spelling is the same, but when vocalised, the word can sound very different. People from countries like Germany, who primarily use the Latin Nomenclature, will usually pronounce the word list in a German accent and that is fine.

Pronunciation Techniques

Here is a sequence that is particularly effective for memorizing unknown words and those few words that for some reason you just can’t remember!

  1. Scan the Atlas: Since this is the first place you will encounter an unknown word, check out the page you are learning and see if there is anything you feel you don’t know or that you read with difficulty or that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying out loud in front of others.
  2. Make a List: One you have checked all the pages for that days study, collect them together by writing a list. You can also do this in lectures or seminar if you hear something and want to look it up.
  3. Find the Phonetic Spelling: Look up the correct pronunciation online at by doing one of their interactive quizzes. There you can actually hear each word and see it written for clarity. If the word you are looking for isn’t there, check online via a good search engine or in a medical dictionary to see the phonetic spelling. Once you have found it, write it down next to the word and make sure you keep the list!
  4. Make Flashcards: The most effective way to learn these words are by making tiny flashcards. Write the word on the front and the phonetic spelling on the back. Spell out the word to yourself and then check it directly. After a few times this should be easy.

Once you feel you have learned the unknown words and brushed up on your anatomy knowledge, test yourself at to find any unknown weak spots in time for your exam so that you’re hard work pays off!

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Show references


  • Collins Gem, English Dictionary, 5th Edition, Collins London and Glasgow, Page 420, Word: Pronounce.


  • Dr. Alexandra Sierosławska
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