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, in anatomy

foot, in anatomy, terminal part of the land vertebrate leg. The term is also applied to any invertebrate appendage used either for locomotion or attachment, e.g., the legs of insects and crustacea, and the single locomotive appendage of the clam. Among land vertebrates, the foot includes the area from the ankle through the toes. In some animals, including humans, the weight is supported on the entire surface of the foot. Such animals are known as plantigrade. In digitigrade animals, e.g., the dog and cat, the weight is supported on a pad behind the toes, while the ankle and wrist areas remain elevated. Such animals as horses and cows that walk on a naillike structure (hoof) at the end of one or more toes are known as unguligrades. Like the hand, the human foot has five digits. However, it is less flexible and lacks an opposable digit (thumb) for grasping, as do the feet of most primates. The human foot consists of 26 bones, connected by tough bands of ligaments. Seven rounded tarsal bones (the internal, middle, and external cuneiform bones, navicular, cuboid, talus, and calcaneus) lie below the ankle joint and form the instep. Five metatarsal bones form the ball of the foot. There are 14 phalanges in the toes (two in the great toe and three in each of the others). The foot bones form two perpendicular arches that normally meet the ground only at the heel and ball of the foot (see flat foot); these arches are found only in humans. The use of the stride, a form of walking in which one leg falls behind the vertical axis of the backbone, is also a singular aspect of the human foot. The stride is thought to be an evolutionary advance from running, and is related to the unique structure of the human foot.

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The lowest part of an object, such as the end of a rafter where it meets the top plate.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the peripheral segment of the lower extremity; the organ that supports the body while standing and moving. The conventional boundary that separates the foot from the crus passes through the apex of the malleoli.

The foot has plantar and dorsal surfaces. It consists of 26 bones that make up the three parts of the foot—the tarsus, metatarsus, and toes. The tarsus is formed by the following spongy bones: the ankle bone, heel bone, navicular bone, cuboid bone, and three cuneiform bones. The ankle and crus bones form the ankle joint, and in the front of the foot the ankle and heel bones join the navicular and cuboid bones to form a composite joint. The five metatarsals articulate with the tarsals in Lisfranc’s joint. The tarsals are connected by heads to the main phalanges of the toes. Each toe has three phalanges, with the exception of the big toe, which has two.

All the bones of the foot are joined together by strong ligaments, forming longitudinal and transverse fornices that function as springs. The muscles of the crus and the dorsal and plantar surfaces of the foot participate in strengthening the foot and moving the toes. The movements of the entire foot, which take place chiefly in the ankle and intermetatarsal joints, are effected by the muscles of the crus. These movements include bending, unbending, adduction, abduction, and rotation. The bones of the foot are firmly secured, and their movements, with the exception of phalangeal movement, are minimal. The movements of the foot assure its elasticity if the foot must undergo arthrodesis.

The foot is supplied with blood by branches of the anterior and posterior tibial arteries, and it is innervated by tibial and fibular nerves.

The most common deformities of the foot are flatfoot, angulation of the first digit, and clubfoot. Among the diseases that affect the foot are paronychia developing from an ingrown toenail, bursitis, and fungous diseases of the skin of the foot. Injuries to the foot include bruises, sprains, fractures, and ligamentary ruptures.




(1) In versification, a recurring combination in a line of a metrically strong stress, or ictus, and a metrically weak stress. The foot is the unit of measure in lines with meter, or a regular alternation of strong and weak stresses. This alternation is the basis of metric (quantitative) and syllabotonic versification, which use the concept of the foot.

In metric versification, the feet in a line are generally equal in length but may vary in the number of syllables they contain. Thus, the foot in the hexameter may have the form—UU or——. In contrast, in syllabotonic versification the feet have the same number of syllables but may vary in terms of the number and placement of stresses: an iambic foot may have the form UÚ, ÚÚ, or UU. Thus, the concept of the foot differs in metric and syllabotonic versification.

(2) In music, a specialized concept (the musical foot) characterizing the structure of musical motifs and their position relative to the strong beat of a measure. Musical feet were typical of medieval modes, the rhythmic figures of mensural music, and the rhythmic patterns of the system of musical bars. The quantitative concept of the musical foot endured until the 20th century; the modern qualitative concept (19th and 20th centuries) is based on the meters of syllabotonic verse: the iamb, trochee, dactyl, amphibrach, anapest, and paeon.


Trudy muzykal’no-etnograficheskoi komissii, vol. 3, fasc. 1. Moscow, 1907.
Mazel’, L. A., and V. A. Tsukkerman. Analiz muzykal’nykh proizvedenii. Moscow, 1967.
Westphal, R. Allgemeine Theorie der musikalischen Rhythmik seit J. S. Bach auf Grundlage der Antiken. Leipzig, 1880.




a unit of length in the English system of measures, equal to 1/3 yard, 12 inches, or 0.3048 meter.

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

What does it mean when you dream about feet?

Feet can symbolize everything from sex to humility. They also represent mobility, freedom, and a foundation. Various metaphors may be represented by literal feet in the dream state: “taking a step in the right direction”; “give him the boot”; “foot in the mouth”; “foot in the door”; “kick the bums out.”

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


Terminal portion of a vertebrate leg.
In a fern, moss, or liverwort, the basal part of the young sporophyte that attaches it to the gametophyte.
(invertebrate zoology)
An organ for locomotion or attachment.
The unit of length in the British systems of units, equal to exactly 0.3048 meter. Abbreviated ft.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. the part of the vertebrate leg below the ankle joint that is in contact with the ground during standing and walking
2. any of various organs of locomotion or attachment in invertebrates, including molluscs
3. Botany the lower part of some plant structures, as of a developing moss sporophyte embedded in the parental tissue
a. a unit of length equal to one third of a yard or 12 inches. 1 Imperial foot is equivalent to 0.3048 metre
b. any of various units of length used at different times and places, typically about 10 per cent greater than the Imperial foot
5. Music
a. a unit used in classifying organ pipes according to their pitch, in terms of the length of an equivalent column of air
b. this unit applied to stops and registers on other instruments
6. Prosody a group of two or more syllables in which one syllable has the major stress, forming the basic unit of poetic rhythm
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005