Medical Terms and Their Essential Word Parts

(simplified connections of word parts which work together to form practical medical terms that can enhance one's understanding of several fields of medicine)

proximal (PRAHK suh muhl) (adjective)
1. Situated very near to the midline or beginning of a body structure.

The proximal end of the humerus (bone of the upper arm) forms part of the shoulder.

Proximal is the opposite of distal.

2. Etymology: from Middle French proximité, "nearness", from Latin proximitatem, proximitas, "nearness, vicinity"; from proximus, "nearest"; a form of prope, "near".
spinal cavity (SPIGH nuhl KAHV i tee) (s) (noun), spinal cavities (pl)
1. A cavity located within the spinal column and that surrounds and protects the spinal cord.
2. Etymology: from Late Latin spinalis, which came from Latin spina, "back bone" and cavity is from Middle French cavité (13th century), from Late Latin cavitas, "hollowness" which came from Latin cavus, "hollow".
superior (soo PEER ee uhr) (adjective)
1. Uppermost, above, or toward the head; for example, the lungs are located "superior to" or above the diaphragm.

Superior is the opposite of inferior.

2. Etymology: "higher in position", from Old French superior, from Latin superiorem, superior, "higher"; a comparative of superus, "situated above, upper"; from super "above, over".
ventral (VEN truhl) (adjective)
1. A reference to the front, or belly side, of an organ or body; the opposite of dorsal.
2. Etymology: from French ventral, which came from Late Latin ventralis, "of" or "pertaining to the belly" or "stomach"; from Latin venter, ventris, "belly, paunch"; so, ventr- refers to the "belly side of the body" + -al, "pertaining to, referring to".
ventral cavity (s) (noun), ventral cavities (pl)
Located along the front of the body; it includes, the thoracic cavity, the abdominal cavity, and the pelvic cavity.

All of these terms are defined separately in their alphabetical positions in this unit.