Oops, your axilla is showing …
Our bodies are amazing, wondrous machines with millions of parts that all somehow work together to keep us alive. From our head to our toes, there are parts small and large, inside and out, many of which you’ve probably never even heard of.
For example, did you know you have an anatomical snuffbox? More on that later, but even the most common body parts we know and love often have alternate names you likely haven’t come across. Some are scientific, some are slang, but many are funny, fascinating, and fabulous words to weave into your conversations. Here are some of our favorites.
Need more ancon room?
If you’re doing the Hokey Pokey, and you put your right ancon in, it’s your right elbow that you’ll soon be shaking all about. First evidence of the term dates back to 1700–10. It stems from the Greek word for elbow, ank?n.
The word elbow is much older, with first evidence of it found before the year 1000. It goes back to the Old English word elnboga, which meant “forearm-bend.”
Put that naris to the grindstone
Rather than tell someone they’ve got something hanging out of their nostril, you could be a little subtler and tell them to check their naris. The word is recorded in English around 1685–95. It stems from the Latin word n?ris.
First evidence of the word nostril can be found before the year 1000. It stems from the Old English word nosterl, which is a variant of the word nosthyrl. That word comes from the words nosu (“nose”) and thyrel (“hole”).
Remember to groom your glabella
First evidence of the word dates back to 1590–1600. It evolved from the Latin word glaber meaning “without hair, smooth.” Which means even back then unibrows weren’t in vogue.
Some people shave their axilla, some people don’t
If someone you know has a little body odor, you may want to tell them to use a little bit more deodorant on their axilla or their axillae (plural). Yep, we’re talking armpits—those smelly, ticklish hollows under our arms. First evidence of axilla in English can be found around 1610–20 when it was borrowed from Latin.
Don’t step on my hallux!
A stubbed hallux can hurt like heck, and it sounds a lot more serious than stubbing your big toe, which is another word for it. First evidence of it dates back to 1825–35, stemming from the Latin word hallus.
The word toe dates back to before the year 900, stemming from the Old English word t?.
Anyone else have two left pollices?
If your boss gives you two pollices up, you know you’re doing a good job. That’s the plural version of the word pollex, which means thumb. The English language borrowed the word from Latin around 1825–35.
The word thumb dates back to before the year 900. It’s akin to the Latin word tum?re, which means “to swell (tumor).”
Flip them the digitus medius
The digitus medius (aka the middle finger) helps us give one of the most powerful verbal signs of all time. When raised alone, it tells people to f*** off. Also called flipping the bird or giving someone the finger, it’s offensive to say the least.
Fun fact: evidence of the gesture can be found way back in 423 bc when it was used in a play by ancient Greek comic-playwright Aristophanes called The Clouds.
What’s that on your anatomical snuffbox?
Defined as “the triangular depression on the back of the hand between the thumb and the index finger,” the anatomical snuffbox was originally used to hold tobacco before people sniffed it—thus the name. Today’s it’s probably used more frequently to hold the salt for the first step of taking tequila shots: licking the salt; followed, of course, by tossing back the tequila, then sucking the lime.
Kisses on your niddick drive you wild?
Your niddick is a sensual area indeed, though it can’t be seen if your hair is long. From a dialect spoken in southwest England, niddick is the nape (back part) of one’s neck.
Sometimes you just want to punch someone in the phiz
You should, of course, refrain from punching anyone in the phiz, which is a slang word for face and a fun twist on it. Its use evolved as a short form of the word physiognomy, which is yet another word for face.
WATCH: Can You Name These Forgotten Body Parts?
- Looking for more body part words? Who isn’t! These old slang words for body parts should make a comeback!
- Or branch out and try adding these tantalizing words inspired by Greek and Roman mythology to your vocabulary.