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Today’s word has an etymology that can even trip up ‘word’ people: anatomy. If you remember the recent etymology given here of atom you’ll recognize the root for anatomy: both words utilize the Ancient Greek word temnein meaning to cut up. The alpha-privative negated that sense giving atom the meaning uncut-able or indivisible. In anatomy, the Ancient Greek prefix ana- gives the meaning up, on, upon, back, toward. It can even enhance the meaning of the word by adding the meaning exceeding or throughout. Our modern English word came in the 14th century via the Middle French word anatomie meaning dissection or skeleton. Anatomy did not acquire its modern meaning of the science of the structure of organized bodies until the 17th century. Today doctors and scientists can ‘cut’ into a persons body using a wide variety of non-invasive techniques such as the MRV (Magnetic Resonance Venogram) shown above.

Image of Reigh Leblanc’s sagittal (i.e. viewed from the side) Auto-Triggered Elliptic Centric Ordered sequence (ATECO) three dimensional gadolinium enhanced Magnetic Resonance Venogram (MRV) courtesy Reigh Leblanc via flickr. It is with deep respect and gratitude that I thank people like Mr. Leblanc for sharing images such as this MRV with the public. Image used under CC 3.0 license.

Image of the Anatomy of the Human Skull from Gray’s Anatomy, image in the public domain.

Image of Brain anatomy by Vesalius also in the public domain.

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