Sunday, July 30, 2017

"The Proper Names of 17 Bodily Functions"

Via InstapunditAsk an anatomist, and they’ll be able to tell you that your kneecap is really your patella. Your armpit is your axilla and the little groove above your top lip is your philtrum. The little flap of cartilage the covers the hole in your ear? That’s your tragus, named after the Greek word for a billy goat—because the tuft of hair that grows on it resembles a goat’s beard (apparently).

But if that’s what’s on the outside, what about what happens on the inside? Well, it turns out the English language has quite a rich collection of formal, medical, and old fashioned words for all of the reflexes and reactions that our bodies naturally carry out without a second thought from us. So the next time you’re stretching as you get out of bed, or you interrupt an important meeting with a ructus or a borborygmus, you’ll at least have the perfect word for it.


Derived originally from an onomatopoeic Greek word, a borborygmus is a rumbling in the stomach or bowels. Borborygmi are produced as the contents of the intestines are pushed along by waves of muscle contractions called peristalsis, although trapped gas from digested food or swallowed air can also cause your borborygmi to become noisier than normal. Bonus fact: Queasy stomach rumbles were called wambles in Tudor English, and you’d be wamble-cropped if you weren’t feeling well.


A study in 2013 found that when people laugh, it's only because they've found something funny about 20 percent of the time. The rest of the time, we use laughter as a means of signaling things like agreement, affection, ease, and nostalgia that we evolved long before communication through language was possible. And a fit of spontaneous, uproarious, unrestrained laughter is called cachinnation.


Cicatrization is the formation of a cicatrix, or a scar. More generally, it refers to any of the healing and sealing processes that help a wound to mend, including the formation of a scab.

(Link to the rest)


Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

A few functions are not included. What about thinking?

edutcher said...

5, 9, and 10, I knew, and 7, 14, and 17 were an easy guesses.

As for 3, Troop and I have indirectly discussed cicatrice before.

ricpic said...

Re: cachinnation. Most of the laughter that is unrelated to finding something funny is NOT because the laugher is at ease or is showing affection; it's the opposite, the laugher is uneasy. The exception to that would be if the laugher is a total extrovert, in which case any idiocy gets a laugh.

chickelit said...

Pensive comment, Evi.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

If those are the proper names, does that mean that all others are improper?

I'll answer my own question: No.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I actually knew a few of those, or at least, they were somewhat familiar. "Eructate," for example.

AllenS said...

I have never heard of any of those words, and will more than likely never say them. Forget about trying to write one. Where did I put my dictionary for dummies?