06 October 2008

medical word of the day: Xiphisternum

I picked this because it sounded so neat.

xiphisternum or xiphoid process: pointed cartilage attached to the lower end of the breastbone or sternum, the smallest and lowest division of the sternum. Cartilaginous early in life, it may become ossified (bony) in adults. It is sometimes simply called the xiphoid. Also known as the ensiform cartilage or process.

The ancients thought the xiphoid looked like the tip of a sword. The word "xiphoid" is from the Greek "xiphos" (straight sword) + "eidos" (like) = straight sword. "Ensiform" is from the Latin "ensis" (sword) + "forma" (shape) = sword shape.

1 comment:

Thelma said...

Love the etymology lesson! Tres cool. Unpronounceable, however, but I'll forgive you.