Nomenclature, Anatomical

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nomenclature, Anatomical


a system of anatomical terms. The Nomina Anatomica is the international system of nomenclature that has been accepted by international congresses of anatomists; it systematizes the Latin or Latinized names of organs and parts of the body as well as all anatomical structures, thereby enabling the scientists of different countries to use the same designations for all human anatomical formations.

With human anatomy, a distinction is made between the Nomina Anatomica and the various national systems of anatomical nomenclature, which define the more common terms essential for the official medical lexicon and which restrict arbitrary word coinage and prevent the appearance of regional or jargonistic terminology in the medical literature.

The first international Nomina Anatomica was the Basel system, which contained 5,629 terms. This system was preceded by the work of the Austrian anatomist J. Hyrth entitled Onomato-logia Anatómica (Vienna, 1880). Hyrth classified Greek and Latin anatomical terms according to origin, evolution, and meaning. In 1935 the Jena Nomina Anatomica was proposed, but it did not win acceptance because many of the terms were based not on the vertical body position of man but on that of four-legged terrestrial vertebrates. Modern medical science has universally adopted the Paris Nomina Anatomica, which defines about 6,000 terms. A draft of this document was prepared by American and British anatomists on the basis of the Basel Nomina Anatomica; this draft was approved at the Sixth International Congress of Anatomists, held in Paris in 1955. It included new terms, for example, “glandulae parathyreoideae” (parathyroid glands) and altered the names of certain anatomical structures. For example, “arteria thoracica interna” (the internal thoracic artery) replaced the Basel term “arteria mammaria interna” (internal mammary artery).

Russian anatomical nomenclature was formulated in the 18th century, with major contributions made by M. I. Shein, A. P. Protasov, N. M. Ambodik-Maksimovich, and P. A. Zagorskii. In the Soviet Union, several anatomists, among them V. P. Vorob’ev, P. I. Karuzin, D. A. Zhdanov, and A. N. Maksimenkov, were instrumental in developing a standard anatomical nomenclature. The main purpose of this system was to reflect the specific nature of the Russian language and to more closely and accurately translate the official Latin terms of the Paris Nomina Anatomica.


Nomina anatomica: mezhdunarodnaia anatomicheskaia nomenklatura, 3rd ed. Edited by D. A. Zhdanov. Moscow, 1970.


The anatomical nomenclature that is applied to animals developed along with the science of veterinary comparative anatomy. In most cases, the veterinary system coincides with the system used with humans. However, the changes adopted at the international congresses do not always apply to the comparative anatomy of animals. For example, zoologists use the term “ductus Botalli” (Botallo’s duct), while strictly speaking a physician would use the term “ductus arteriosus” (arterial duct).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?