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Muscle-Building Workout and Diet

Hi, this is Kevin Patton I have another study
tip for human anatomy and physiology. This time it’s regarding muscles and how muscle
names can be a shortcut to learning the muscles, where they’re at, and what they do. You probably
have been given a list by your instructor as to what muscles you need to be able to
identify or maybe it’s a list that’s In your lab manual. In any case, once you look at
all those muscle names, it looks like a lot of gibberish, doesn’t it? It look like it’s
written a foreign language. Well, you know what? It is. Even English versions of these
muscle names are derived from Latin. And that’s something that’s very useful to know. You
might think it’s a hindrance, but actually it’s a help. Let’s take a look at this group
of muscles that are adductor muscles, that is, they have the word adductor in their name.
And, as you can imagine, these are muscles that do adduction. That is, they adduct, in
this case the femur, by bending the hip joint and bringing the the leg toward the midline,
or the median plane, of the body. Now the first one we have shown there is in green
and is called adductor magnus. Adductor means it’s an adductor muscle, of course, and magnus
is the Latin word for great or large and you can see it’s a very large muscle. We can’t
really see the whole thing in this view because there are a couple other muscles in the way.
As a matter of fact, those muscles are adductor muscles as well. For example, the one highlighted
in yellow now is is adductor brevis and brevis is a Latin word that means brief or short.
And, as you can see, it is very short compared to adductor magnus, isn’t it?. When we look
at the third one with adductor in its name, and it’s adductor longus and, well, as you
can imagine, longus means long. And so it’s longer than brevis and of course magnus is
really huge compared to all of them. So we have three different abductor muscles all
very close to one another. And so how do you tell them apart? Well, their names! One is
very big, one is short, and one is long. Now one weird thing about Latin, you probably
already noticed, is the words seem to the words seem to be backwards in the phrase.
Let’s take a closer look at that. In English, when we have a phrase like red wagon, in Latin
it would be rendered as wagon red instead, of course using Latin words, not English words.
But this is to show the word order. So there is a different word order these two languages.
And so the modifier, which is the adjective, in this case red, is modifying a noun. Which
in this case is wagon. And so the modifier comes after the term that it modifies in Latin,
which is backwards from English. Let’s look at another example. Big red wagon. In Latin,
that would be rendered as wagon red big. And so the modifiers come after the terms being
modified. So let’s apply that to one of these Latin names like, ooh, here’s a long one:
extensor carpi radialis brevis. That sounds like a mouthful but it’s really kind of a
whole phrase or sentence in Latin. An extensor, of course, is going to extend a part, that
is, stretch it out. And carpi means of the wrist. Remember carpal bones, or the wrist
bones. Radialis in this case means pertaining to, or near, or at the radius bone of the
forearm. And then brevis, we already know, means short. So if we put that all together
and translate it into a good English word order, it means the short wrist stretcher
at the radius. Which tells you an awful lot about that muscle: where to find it and what
is does. Now there are some other names of muscles that are not whole phrases but describe
some aspect of the muscle. Like the gracilis muscle shown here. We see it’s a muscle that
is a long slender muscle. And that’s what the term gracilis means is slender. So the
gracilis muscle is the slender muscle. Another mnemonic device that you might be able to
use is graceful: it’s a long slender graceful muscle. Here’s another one with kind of an
odd name but, when translated into Latin, make a lot of sense. The buccinator or BUK-sin-ay-ter
muscle is a muscle of the cheek and it’s called the trumpeter muscle. And that’s because when
you are blowing a trumpet, you really need to use this muscle to compress the air in
your mouth and thus push it to and through the trumpet. Now where are you gonna learn
all this stuff? Maybe you haven’t taken a Latin class, probably haven’t taken a Latin
class, or two or three. And so, you know, how are you gonna figure this out? Well, I
suggest the Survival Guide for Anatomy and Physiology. And if you use this little link
here, you can type that into your browser and get to a description of that book. And
not only do I explain how to do this but I give you some tables on how to do the translation.
And a free resource that you can download yourself is a this list of muscle names that
you can download from my site at and so here’s the URL for that. So type that
your browser and you can download a couple different versions of my muscle name list
that has the translation of the name of at least some of the major muscles, not ever
muscle in the body. That, and other, study tips are always available for you at my blog,
which is found at

26 thoughts on “Muscle Names Have Meaning

  1. great video! just an idea, putting the links in the description would be a little more convenient, but nevertheless helpful video

  2. I think you just saved my life – I have been wondering where you could learn the meaning of the words in an easy way. Thank you!

  3. Hi Kevin,
    Thanks for the resources, can you post the link for the book and list of words please.

    Oh found it…

  4. David, that's a great idea to use Google Translate for finding the meanings of latin terms in anatomy!

  5. Thank you for the video. Is it possible to know where these anatomy illustration come from i would like to buy the book if there is one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Dr. Kevin any chance of revising your video with a link to the 2nd edition of your book?

    For anyone looking here's the link:

  7. Hello Kevin Patton I've entered your link and it said error 404, could you please let us know where to find that muscle list? I am studying first year massage therapy course. Thank you Marie

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