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The human body is truly one of the wonders of nature. Gaining an understanding human anatomy is an important scientific goal, and it is obviously of crucial significance for medicine. Although the human body is extremely complex, consisting of a vast array of interdependent parts, several “systems” can be identified and studied individually. We will consider each of these major systems very briefly. The skeleton is made up of bones, joints, and cartilage. The skeleton serves as a frame that supports the body, and as a hard shell that protects organs. The various bones of the skeleton are fitted together at the joints, with cartilage acting as a cushioning material. Red blood cells are produced within the marrow at the center of the bones. The muscles, many of which are attached to the skeleton, allow the body to move and to apply force to external objects, and also to perform some vital functions. Some muscles are under voluntary control, but other muscles?such as the heart and the muscles of some internal organs?operate without our conscious control.
The respiratory system is responsible for breathing and for the supply of oxygen. Air is inhaled through the nose and mouth, and sent down the wind-pipe (or trachea) to the lungs. Within some very small spaces inside the lungs, oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream. At the same time, carbon dioxide is released and exhaled. The circulatory system is responsible for supplying needed materials throughout the body, and for removing unwanted materials. These materials are carried in the blood, which is pumped through arteries and veins by the contraction of the heart. The blood also contains substances that help to defend the body against infections. Another fluid, known as lymph, is also transported within the circulatory system. The digestive system is responsible for extracting nutrients from food. Food is chewed in the mouth, and then sent down the esophagus to the stomach. Within the stomach, food is broken down and sent on to the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed. These digestive processes are aided by substances that are released by other organs, such as the pancreas and liver.
Undigested material then goes to the large intestine, where water is re-absorbed. Waste is then excreted through the colon and finally the anus. The urinary system allows the body to maintain proper levels of water and other molecules, such as sodium and potassium. Blood is sent through the kidneys, which then filter the blood to remove unneeded materials. This waste liquid is sent through tubes called ureters to the bladder, where it is stored and then expelled through another tube, the urethra. The endocrine system contains the glands that release many substances, called hormones, that control the body’s activity. Various glands release hormones that regulate activities such as growth, sexual development, and the breakdown of sugar and starch. The nervous system is also heavily involved in the regulation of the body’s activities. Sensory information is sent via the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. The brain processes information, and transmits instructions via the spinal cord and nerves to the rest of the body.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It is responsible for covering and protecting the body’s other organs, and it helps to regulate body temperature and hydration. Hair and nails are actually parts of the skin. The reproductive system differs between men and women. The reproductive organs of men include the testicles, which produce sperm cells, and the penis, which is used in sexual intercourse. In women, the reproductive organs include the ovaries, where egg cells are produced, the uterus (or womb), where the fetus develops, the clitoris, which is involved in sexual response, and the vagina, which is involved in both sexual intercourse and in the birth of the baby. Women also possess developed mammary glands that produce milk after childbirth. To understand the workings of the human body in detail, many years of study are required. But we can all gain and appreciate a basic understanding of how this amazing machine is put together.
the scientific study of the structure of human or animal bodies
the department of anatomy and physiology
the scientific study of the structure of human or animal bodies:
a professor of anatomy
human/animal anatomy Knowledge of human anatomy is essential to figure drawing
extremely important, because it will affect other things
Synonym: critical, essential
a crucial factor/issue/decisiontopics of crucial importance
The next few weeks are going to be crucial.
crucial to/for something Winning this contract is crucial to the success of the company.
crucial that… It is crucial that we get this right.
Parents play a crucial role in preparing their child for school.
He wasn’t there at the crucial moment (= when he was needed most).
something that is crucial is extremely important, because everything else depends on it
crucial to This aid money is crucial to the government’s economic policies.
crucial in/to doing something The work of monks was crucial in spreading Christianity.
play a crucial role/part in something The city of Mycenae played a crucial role in the history of Greece.
The conservation of tropical forests is of crucial importance.
the importance of something, especially when this has an effect on what happens in the future
a decision of major political significance
The new drug has great significance for the treatment of the disease.
They discussed the statistical significance of the results.
We should be fully aware of the significance of television in shaping our ideas.
the importance of an event, action etc, especially because of the effects or influence it will have in the future [≠ insignificance]: Stella didn’t attach any significance to Doug’s query.
significance of the significance of climate change
The book assesses the significance of Stalin’s policies between 1927 and 1939.
significance for The results of the study have a wider significance for all the profession.
great/little significance (in something)
The crime problem has great significance to the general public.
grasp/appreciate the significance (of something) (=fully understand something)
The press were slow to grasp the significance of what happened.
the study and treatment of diseases and injuries
advances in modern medicine
to study/practise medicinetraditional/conventional/orthodox medicinealternative medicine
Usage note: Illnesses
catch a cold/an infectious disease/the flu/(British English) flu/pneumonia/a virus/(informal) a bug
get (British English) ill/(North American English) sick/a disease/AIDS/breast cancer/a cold/the flu/(British English) flu/a migraine
come down with a cold/the flu/(British English) flu
contract a deadly disease/a serious illness/HIV/AIDS
be infected with a virus/a parasite/HIV
develop cancer/diabetes/a rash/an ulcer/symptoms of hepatitis
have a heart attack/a stroke
provoke/trigger/produce an allergic reaction
block/burst/rupture a blood vessel
damage/sever a nerve/an artery/a tendon
feel (British English) ill/sick/nauseous/queasy
be running (British English) a temperature/(North American English) a fever
have a head cold/diabetes/heart disease/lung cancer/a headache/(British English) a high temperature/(North American English) a fever
suffer from asthma/malnutrition/frequent headaches/bouts of depression/a mental disorder
be laid up with/(British English) be in bed with a cold/the flu/(British English) flu/a migraine
nurse a cold/a headache/a hangover
examine a patient
diagnose a condition/disease/disorder
be diagnosed with cancer/diabetes/schizophrenia
prescribe/be given/be on/take drugs/medicine/medication/pills/painkillers/antibiotics
treat somebody for cancer/depression/shock
have/undergo an examination/an operation/surgery/a kidney transplant/therapy/chemotherapy/treatment for cancer
have/be given an injection/(British English) a flu jab/(North American English) a flu shot/a blood transfusion/a scan/an X-ray
cure a disease/an ailment/cancer/a headache/a patient
prevent the spread of disease/further outbreaks/damage to the lungs
be vaccinated against the flu/(British English) flu/the measles/(British English) measles/polio/smallpox
enhance/boost/confer/build immunity to a disease
the treatment and study of illnesses and injuries:
She studied medicine at Johns Hopkins University.
the remarkable achievements of modern medicinecomplementary/alternative/folk etc medicinetraditional Chinese medicine
a group or collection of things or people, often one that is large or impressive
a vast array of bottles of different shapes and sizes
a dazzling array of talent
a group of people or things, especially one that is large or impressive
array of a dazzling array of flowers
a bewildering array of options
a vast/impressive/wide array There was a vast array of colours to choose from.
that depend on each other; consisting of parts that depend on each other
The world is becoming increasingly interdependent.
depending on or necessary to each other:
countries with interdependent economies
separately, rather than as a group
individually wrapped chocolates
The manager spoke to them all individually.
The hotel has 100 individually designed bedrooms.
Individually, students have little power, but collectively they can be more influential.
separately, not together in a group:
The bridegroom thanked them all individually.
individually wrapped portions of cheese
a place where two bones are joined together in the body in a way that enables them to bend and move
inflammation of the knee joint
My joints are really stiff this morning.
a part of your body that can bend because two bones meet there
knee/neck/hip/elbow etc joint a permanently damaged knee joint
the strong white tissue that is important in support and especially in joints to prevent the bones rubbing against each other
I’ve damaged the cartilage in my knee.
a strong substance that can bend, which is around the joints in your body and in your outer ear
a part of the body that has a particular purpose, such as the heart or the brain; part of a plant with a particular purpose
the internal organs
the sense organs (= the eyes, ears, nose, etc.)
the sexual/reproductive organs
an organ transplant/donor
a part of the body, such as the heart or lungs, that has a particular purpose
the liver, heart, and other internal organsloss of blood flow to his vital organsExtra doses of the hormone caused the animals’ reproductive organs to develop sooner than usual.
In Arizona, 480 people are waiting for organ transplants.
dying people who have agreed to be organ donors
to protect somebody/something from being hurt or damaged or from the unpleasant effects of something
The south of the country has been cushioned from the worst effects of the recession.
He broke the news of my brother’s death to me, making no effort to cushion the blow (= make the news less shocking).
to make the effect of a fall or hit less painful, for example by having something soft in the way:
His landing was cushioned by the fresh snow that had fallen.
a soft substance that fills the hollow parts of bones
a bone marrow transplant
bone marrow [uncountable]the soft substance in the hollow centre of bones [= marrow]:
a bone marrow transplant
that you can control
voluntary movements of your body are controlled by your conscious mind
connected with breathing
the respiratory system
the respiratory rate
relating to breathing or your lungs:
to take air, smoke, gas, etc. into your lungs as you breathe
Synonym: breathe in
She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
He inhaled deeply on another cigarette.
Lift your arms above your head and inhale as you stretch.
Local residents needed hospital treatment after inhaling fumes from the fire.
to breathe in air, smoke, or gas [≠ exhale]:
It is dangerous to inhale ammonia fumes.
Myra lit another cigarette and inhaled deeply (=breathed in a lot of smoke).
the tube in the throat that carries air to the lungs
the tube that takes air from your throat to your lungs
to breathe out the air or smoke, etc. in your lungs
He sat back and exhaled deeply.
exhale something She exhaled the smoke through her nose.
to breathe air, smoke etc out of your mouth [≠ inhale]:
Take a deep breath, then exhale slowly.
the process of becoming smaller
the expansion and contraction of the metal
The sudden contraction of the markets left them with a lot of unwanted stock.
Physical stress caused by expansion and contraction can damage components within the computer.
the process of becoming smaller or narrower:
the contraction of metal as it cools
the act or process of causing or getting a disease
to be exposed to infection
to increase the risk of infection
a disease that affects a particular part of your body and is caused by bacteria or a virus:
an ear infection
a slight infection in the bladder
a liquid; a substance that can flow
body fluids (= for example, blood)
The doctor told him to drink plenty of fluids.
a liquid [↪ gas, solid]:
He is not allowed solid food yet, only fluids.
a powerful cleaning fluid
a clear liquid containing white blood cells that helps to clean the tissues of the body and helps to prevent infections from spreading
a clear liquid that is formed in your body and passes into your blood system to fight against infection
connected with the digestion of food
the digestive system/tract
connected with the process of digestion
digestive system/organs/juices etc
a substance that is needed to keep a living thing alive and to help it to grow
a lack of essential nutrients
Plants draw minerals and other nutrients from the soil.
children suffering from a serious nutrient deficiency
a chemical or food that provides what is needed for plants or animals to live and grow:
The plant absorbs nutrients from the soil.
the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach
a long tube in the body between the stomach and the anus. Food passes from the stomach to the small intestine and from there to the large intestine.
the long tube in your body through which food passes after it leaves your stomach [= gut]
an organ near the stomach that produces insulin and a liquid that helps the body to digest food
a gland inside your body, near your stomach, that produces insulin and a liquid that helps your body to use the food that you eat
a large organ in the body that cleans the blood and produces bile
to pass solid or liquid waste matter from the body
to get rid of waste material from your body through your bowels, your skin etc [↪ secrete]
the main part of the large intestine (= part of the bowels )
the lower part of the bowels, in which food is changed into waste matter
anusthe opening in a person’s bottom through which solid waste leaves the body
connected with urine or the parts of the body through which it passes
a urinary infection
the urinary tract
relating to urine or the parts of your body through which urine passes:
the urinary tract
either of the two organs in the body that remove waste products from the blood and produce urine
a kidney infection
one of the two organs in your lower back that separate waste products from your blood and make urine:
a kidney transplant
an organ that is shaped like a bag in which liquid waste (= urine ) collects before it is passed out of the body
the organ in your body that holds urine (=waste liquid) until it is passed out of your body
expelto force air or water out of a part of the body or from a container
to expel air from the lungs
connected with glands that put hormones and other products directly into the blood
the endocrine system
relating to the system in your body that produces hormones:
the endocrine glands
an organ in a person’s or an animal’s body that produces a substance for the body to use. There are many different glands in the body
a snake’s poison glands
Her glands are swollen.
to control the speed, pressure, temperature, etc. in a machine or system
This valve regulates the flow of water.
to control an activity or process, especially by rules:
strict rules regulating the use of chemicals in food
a white carbohydrate food substance found in potatoes, flour, rice, etc; food containing this
There’s too much starch in your diet.
You need to cut down on starches.
a substance which provides your body with energy and is found in foods such as grain, rice, and potatoes, or a food that contains this substance [= carbohydrate]:
He eats a lot of starch.
Avoid fatty foods and starches.
connected with your physical senses
relating to or using your senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch:
sensory stimuli such as music
by means of a particular person, system, etc
I heard about the sale via Jane.
The news programme came to us via satellite.
travelling through a place on the way to another place:
We flew to Athens via Paris.
the mass of nerves inside the spine that connects all parts of the body to the brain
the thick string of nerves enclosed in your spine, by which messages are sent to and from your brain
hydrate something (technical)
to make something absorb water
a lotion that protects and hydrates your skin
to supply someone or something with water to keep them healthy and in good condition [≠ dehydrate]:
After you run, drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
either of the two organs that produce sperm, located in a bag of skin below the penis
one of the two round organs that produce sperm in a male, that are enclosed in a bag of skin behind and below the penis
a cell that is produced by the sex organs of a male and that can combine with a female egg to produce young
He has a low sperm count (= very few live male cells).
a cell produced by the sex organs of a male person or animal, which is able to join with the female egg to produce a new life
sexual intercourse the act of having sex
ovaryeither of the two organs in a woman’s body that produce eggs; a similar organ in female animals, birds and fish
the organ in women and female animals in which babies develop before they are born.
a young human or animal before it is born, especially a human more than eight weeks after fertilization
the usual American spelling of foetus
the small sensitive organ just above the opening of a woman’s vagina which becomes larger when she is sexually excited
a small part of a woman’s outer sexual organs, where she can feel sexual pleasure
the passage in the body of a woman or female animal between the outer sex organs and the womb
the passage between a woman’s outer sexual organs and her uterus
connected with the breasts
mammary glands (= parts of the breast that produce milk)
connected with or relating to the breasts:
normal mammary tissue