Several of @Masi's anatomy questions (e.g., here1 and here2, among others) are written with latin anatomy terms. Should we turn them into standard english? No one in the English speaking anatomy world uses the term this way.


4 Answers 4


Latin has been lingua franca in medicine for many centuries and even millenia. I am surprised to read that the "English speaking anatomy world" doesn't use Latin and can assure, that Russian- and German speaking worlds do extensively use latin-based terminology.

The most common reason to use latin is because this terminology is highly unified. As long as you use the classical nomenclatures, BNA or PNA, everyone irrespective of hier or her native language immediately understands you.

I would even suggest the opposite -- for anatomy questions requiring deep knowledge of this subject I would intentionally latinize the question: latin terms are often used in search queries and would make questions easier to find.


If the user writes the latin terms, he's probably somewhere where the latin terms are still used. Removing them wouldn't be a good idea in this case.

Adding the english terms to the latin terms would be the best solution.


The Latin terms are still the standard Medical terms according to medical people. We don't call E. coli something else.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What's the source of this? If I read Lancet, I don't see Nomina Anatomica terminology. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Apr 3, 2012 at 6:25

Unfortunately, this is a site with a very broad range, in "biology" we have (in roughly descending order of professionalism, and not exhaustive at all):

  1. academic biology
    • macrobiology
    • microbiology
    • ecology / evolutionary biology
    • physiology
  2. medicine (for professionals)
  3. health (for normal people)
  4. hobbyist curiosity

Given the wide range, it's probably best to aim the terminology at the reader. (If someone is asking if they can sleep every other night and still be healthy, no need to phrase the answer in Latin)


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