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Lion Track icon Lion Den » A&P » Study Tips » Structures » Field Guide » Muscle Names

Study Tips & Tools

Muscle Names

Translating muscle names can help you find & remember muscles

binocular icon Field Guide to the Human Body


When you first get the list of muscles you need to identify in A&P lab, the names can seem very odd and "foreign." That's because even the English names are really Latin phrases!

However, once you know that muscle names are Latin phrases, you can use them as shortcuts to help you find and learn the muscles faster and more efficiently! How? By translating the phrases, you can learn something about the muscle, such as its location, its structure, or its function . . . and sometimes a combination of these characteristics.

One thing to remember is that in Latin the modifying words (such as adjectives) come AFTER the term they modify. This is the opposite of the way it's done in English. For example, in English the phrase "red wagon" would instead be "wagon red" using the Latin word order. So the term adductor longus is literally "[muscle]bringer-in long" but using English word order is better understood as "long bringer in [muscle]."

If you happen to know something about Latin, you'll notice that the word endings of modifying words have special endings that tell you that they are modifiers. But you don't really need to know this in order to translate the muscle names. First, many of the Latin terms are similar enough to English, that you can figure it out yourself! But even so, I've done the translation for you!

Just click on one of the links at the bottom of this page to get a list of:

Good idea icon Find more tips on translating muscle names here!

Check out this video for some examples!

Here is a list of some PARTS of muscle names that you may find helpful:

Although most translated muscle names are helpful in learning about each muscle, they are not complete descriptions of muscles. They are useful handles for identifying and learning.

The bottom line is . . . if you pay attention to muscle names, it can help you learn about muscles quickly and accurately . . . and remember this information for a long time!

Click below for a Muscle Names List
Muscle Names List MS Word (.docx) version
Muscle Names List PDF (portable document file) version

Check out other tips for learning human structure and function at

binocular icon Field Guide to the Human Body

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This page updated on 10-feb-16