You’re about to learn 71 body parts in English. Also check out 27 Words for Facial Expressions in English.
The human body is an amazing thing.
It grows and shrinks and even makes noises depending on what we do to it.
We can use it to write great works of literature and to impress people with our juggling skills.
We can use it to climb mountains and to make machines that go to the bottom of the ocean, where you can see some truly weird and terrifying stuff.
So, it’s a good idea to be able to talk about different body parts in English, right?
I know you probably did a whole lesson or two on this stuff at school, but how much detail did you get into?
Today, we’re going to take a detailed look at human body parts (don’t worry … not THAT detailed).
And to make it easier, I’ve broken everything down into three sections:
Body Parts in English: The Head
OK. Let’s go straight ahead with the head! (See what I did there?)
Ah yes! The eyes!
The window to the soul!
The things we see with and that leak when we feel sad or happy or spend too much time cutting onions.
The hairy stuff above the eyes.
You raise your eyebrows when you look surprised.
Some people aren’t very happy with the way their eyebrows look and like to take matters into their own hands by shaving them off and drawing new ones on.
Which reminds me of a terrible, but hilarious, joke:
“I told my wife she was drawing her eyebrows on too high; she looked surprised!”
More hair around the eyes.
These are the ones that stick out right above (and a bit below) the eye — some people like putting mascara on theirs to make them stand out more.
I always thought that eyelashes were kind of pointless until I was about 14 years old and my friend managed to drop superglue on my eye. (Thanks, Phil — I still remember.)
Anyway, my eyelashes saved my eye that day as they caught the glue before it reached it.
The small, black parts in the middle of the eyes.
One very cool thing about them is how they get bigger and smaller depending on how much light there is around.
When they get bigger, you can say that your pupils are dilated.
This is such a cool word, but what is it?
The iris is the part around the pupil — it comes in different colours, chiefly green, brown and blue.
Some people, like David Bowie and some Instagram cats, are lucky enough to have one brown and one blue iris. So cool …
The whites of your eyes
OK, as you’ll see below, there are some parts of the body – really important parts – that don’t really have an everyday word.
So we just end up describing them.
And the whites of your eyes are one of these.
I was going to suggest that we should come up with a good name for this part of the body, but then I Googled it and found the scientific name for it — and it’s awesome:
The whites of your eyes are technically called your sclera.
Why don’t we use this word? It sounds great AND would make a fabulous band name.
OK — we know what ears are, time to move on.
Just a quick note, though. Isn’t it nice that “hear” contains “ear”?
The soft, wobbly part at the bottom of the ear.
You know, the part that many people get pierced so they can wear earrings.
Today’s post is mostly focusing on external body parts, but I’m including a few internal ones.
Why? Well, some internal body parts are so much part of everyday English that they kind of “feel” external, if you know what I mean.
The eardrum is basically the part of the ear that transmits sound — and that’s really all that most non-sciency people know about it.
When we use this word, it’s usually to warn people not to listen to music too loud, or to wear ear protection in noisy environments:
“Make sure you take your earplugs to the gig. That band gets really loud, and you don’t wanna burst your eardrums.”
The pink/red things around your mouth.
You know — the things you use to kiss with.
When you make a kissing face, you’re pouting your lips.
When you press your lips together when you’re angry, you purse your lips.
And when you’re John Major, you have no lips.
The part of the upper lip that kind of goes down in the middle.
Cupid was the Roman god of love — you know the one — the guy who went around shooting people with “love arrows” and forcing them to fall in love with each other.
These days, you only really see him on Valentine’s Day cards:
Yeah — we all know what these are.
Want to eat an apple? Then you’ll need teeth.
Also, in some countries, when you lose your milk teeth (the teeth you had as a kid) and put one under your pillow, some fairy comes into your room while you’re sleeping (creepy) and pays you for your tooth (also creepy).
Would be so much easier to post it to her, right?
Also — what does she do with all those teeth? Is she constructing a tooth monster? Or maybe she’s grinding them all down to powder and selling it as a kind of white cement to construction companies?
I should stop thinking about this now.
Tongues are pretty creepy if you think about it.
I mean, imagine just seeing a tongue by itself. Straight out of a horror film!
Your tongue is covered in taste buds. That’s why you can taste the food you eat.
Also — where does the tongue actually start? It just sort of disappears down the mouth.
Gums are the red stuff that your teeth are attached to.
The holes in your nose — the ones you breathe through.
When some people get angry, they sort of move their nostrils in an almost animal-like way.
That’s when they flare their nostrils.
The bit of muscle in between the nostrils that separates them.
Some people have it pierced.
Bridge of the nose
The top of the nose where it meets the head.
Other parts of the head
The bottom front part of your head. It moves up and down when you speak or when you eat.
Sometimes, when I’m listening to something with a lot of interest, I find myself resting my chin on my hand.
The soft sides of your face.
Above the cheeks are your cheekbones.
Some people have very strongly defined cheekbones — like David Bowie.
When you see a human skull, the jaw is one of the most identifiable parts of it.
Basically, the jaw is the part that contains the bottom row of teeth.
And that’s probably why they named the film about a killer shark Jaws. Most of the people being eaten by it were primarily concerned about the teeth and the strong bone that powered them. They were also worried about their legs, which were rapidly disappearing.
Put your fingers on the side of your head, between your eye and your ear.
Can you feel it? That little area that’s quite soft — about two square centimetres?
That’s your temple!
People sometimes rub their temples when they’re stressed.
Forehead / Brow
The part between the eyebrows and the hair.
When someone’s trying to explain to you the plot to Game of Thrones and is confusing you so much that you’ve forgotten your own name, you probably have a furrowed brow — your eyebrows are low and your forehead has more lines on it than normal.
We tend to furrow our brows when we’re confused or when we’re angry.
And here is where we leave the head — say “Goodbye, head!”
The neck takes us from the head to the upper body.
Body Parts in English: The Upper Body
Tell me, what kind of bag do you have for your everyday stuff?
I reckon that there’s at least a 50 percent chance that you’re a backpack kind of person. Most people (including myself) seem to be these days.
If you are, then where does all the weight of the backpack go?
On your shoulders – the very top of the arms.
If you have to take on a difficult responsibility, you can say that you’re shouldering the responsibility for something.
Quick question: where do you apply deodorant?
Probable answer: “To my armpits, of course!”
Your armpits are the dark, sweaty, usually hairy, parts of your body that you kind of need to keep clean as much as you can.
You know the one — let’s move on!
It’s a nice word, isn’t it?
The elbow is the part right in the middle of your arm that you can bend and that stops your whole arm being one inconveniently straight thing.
It also sounds like “L-bow,” which kind of makes sense because when we bend our arm 90 degrees, it looks a bit like the letter “L.”
Just don’t hit it too hard — there’s what we call the funny bone in your elbow, and if you hit it, it’ll send pins and needles up your arm.
I’m going to leave you to guess this one.
Really? You want me to say?
OK — your upper arms are the parts between your elbows and your shoulders.
It’s the part that big, muscly men like showing off after they’ve been working out loads.
Your forearms are the lower part of the arm — between the elbow and the hand.
And now we reach the end of the arms!
The joint between your arm and your hand is your wrist — it’s where you have your watch (if you’re the kind of person who still uses one) and possibly some attractive bracelets.
You know about the fingers, right? But can you name them?
OK. Here we go …
Your smallest finger is your little finger, sometimes also called your pinky or pinky finger.
The next one is called your ring finger. That’s probably because it’s the finger traditionally used for your wedding ring.
The middle finger? Guess what that one’s called? That’s right — it’s called your middle finger. Please be careful about waving this one around, yeah?
The next one is called the index finger. Use it to point at things and swipe your phone.
Quick! Answer this question: How many fingers do you have?
Did you say ten? Well, you’re wrong! You have eight! Your thumbs aren’t fingers! Ha ha ha!
But only technically speaking — most people just categorise the thumbs as fingers.
You know what this is, right? It’s the strange one on the end of the hand.
The fact that we have opposable thumbs is one of the reasons humans have become so dominant in nature as they allow us to use tools like knives and spears and Instagram.
The hard parts that keep growing at the end of your fingers.
If you feel flashy, you might get a manicure and have them painted and shaped and sharpened and whatever else happens in a nail salon.
Your knuckles are the hard bones that allow you to bend your fingers.
Each finger has three knuckles. (The thumb just has two.)
If you’re really, really angry with someone, and you want to warn them that you might hit them soon, you can say, “Careful, mate. You’re asking for a knuckle sandwich.”
It means “a punch.”
No — not a tree. You don’t have a tree in your hand, no matter how weird your life is.
The palm of your hand is the smoother inside part below the fingers.
It’s the bit with lots of lines on it that some people believe can predict how long you’re going to live and how many kids you’re going to have and whether you’re about to pay a mystic far too much money for looking at your hand and talking rubbish.
Back of the hand
I warned you that there would be some parts of the body that simply don’t have a proper word.
And this is one of them.
And now you know.
When you know something really well, you can say you know it like the back of your hand.
OK — this isn’t technically a body part, but it’s kind of useful.
Think about the last time you got angry and wanted to punch something (and hopefully not someone) — what shape did you make your hand?
That’s right — you made your hand into a fist.
So the front upper part of the upper body is called the chest.
And that’s all there is to it!
One of the more amusing body parts today.
Nipples are used by mothers to provide milk to their babies and help them stay healthy and strong.
Nipples are used by men for … nothing. Totally pointless. They’re just there, being awkward.
Breasts and are only found on women and men who drink too much beer. They’re what mothers use to feed milk to their babies.
There are lots of informal, and slightly sweary, words for breast, but if you want to know what they are, I’m sure you can find out.
The stomach is actually the internal organ that collects your food when you eat.
But we just use this word to mean the general external area where the stomach is.
We also use the word “belly.”
That’s where we get the term “belly dancer.”
You can guess this one, right?
The little circle (going in for some and going out for others) in the middle of your belly, where your umbilical cord used to connect you to your mother while she was pregnant.
I always used to get “waist” and “hip” mixed up for ages.
But I know now!
Your waist is the area around your body at about the level of your belly button. If you’re lucky and in good shape, it’s probably the narrowest part of your upper body.
… and your hips are below your waist and above your legs, at the sides of your body. Women typically have wider hips than men … because babies.
On your back, near the top and near (and connected to) your shoulders, are your shoulder blades.
Some people have really sharp shoulder blades that stick out and look a little bit like something from the film Alien.
Again, it’s not an external body part, but we talk about it a lot — especially as we get older.
It’s the long set of bones that goes from your neck all the way to the bottom of your back.
If you have back problems, it’s usually related to the spine.
Small of the back
Why, oh why is it called “the small of the back” and not “the bottom of the back”?
I mean — it’s literally the bottom of the back.
It’s where the spine ends.
And this is where our section on the upper body ends.
Let’s move on to the lower body!
Body Parts in English: The Lower Body
The rude bits (Private parts)
Bottom / Backside / Bum / Butt / Arse / Ass
Lots of words for this one!
Why? Because it’s rude — and humans get pretty creative with language when it comes to the rude things.
None of these words is extremely offensive, but if you want to play it safe, stick to “bottom” or “backside.”
Yep — I’m going for the technical term for this bit.
And guess what? That’s all I’m saying on the matter.
If you really want to learn more (and I bet you do), then check out some more … ahem … detail by following this link (not safe for work).
Your thigh is the upper half of your leg.
Remember the elbow?
Well, the knee is the leg’s elbow — the joint in the middle that allows you to bend it.
The bones that protect the knee.
Apparently, these are the most painful parts of the body where you can be shot.
I’m not sure about that fact, though — I’m imagining other parts of the body that would be more painful.
I’m sure you can, too …
The lower part of your leg has a different word depending on whether you’re referring to the front or the back.
The back part — the fleshy part — is your calf.
The front part — the bony part — is your shin.
If the knee is the leg’s elbow, then the ankles are the leg’s wrists.
They’re what connects the leg to the foot.
For some reason, the ankle has been singled out as a reasonable place to have a tattoo.
I have no idea why.
OK. So the toes are like fingers, but on the leg.
Unfortunately, the toes don’t get quite as much attention as the fingers, so we don’t really have a name for each toe.
Just the big toe, which is … erm … the biggest toe.
And the little toe, which is — you guessed it — carrot cake. No, I mean the smallest toe. But you can also call it the pinky toe.
Also, if you write the word “toe” too many times, it just starts to look really weird.
The fingers have nails.
And so do the toes.
This shouldn’t be shocking news.
Soles of the feet
The soles of your feet are the bottom parts of your feet.
You know, the part that’s touching the ground if you don’t have shoes on and that gets crazy hot when you have to walk on the beach in 38-degree heat.
Your heels are the parts at the back of the sole.
If you’re familiar with high heel shoes, then you’ll remember this easily.
The arches of your feet are the parts that don’t actually touch the ground.
An arch is also a type of shape — like a bridge. The arch of the foot lifts away from the ground and kind of looks like a bridge.
There we have it — common body parts for human bodies in English!
You can now talk about the human body with more confidence and in more detail.
Were any of these surprising?
Did I miss anything important?
If so, let me know in the comments, and we can talk more about body parts in English!
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