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anatomy Line breaks: anat|omy
Pronunciation: /əˈnatəmi/

Definition of anatomy in English:

noun (plural anatomies)

1 [mass noun] The branch of science concerned with the bodily structure of humans, animals, and other living organisms, especially as revealed by dissection and the separation of parts: he studied physiology and anatomy human anatomy
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  • The basic human sciences involved are anatomy, physiology, and psychology.
  • The book is primarily designed for students of forensic anthropology and presumes a background in human anatomy and osteology.
  • No study in the history of physics, chemistry, biology or human anatomy and physiology has determined the concept of chi to be an accurate description of how the body works.
1.1 [count noun] The bodily structure of an organism: descriptions of the cat’s anatomy and behaviour
More example sentences
  • But it has led scientists to believe that some animals with very different anatomies are related - for instance, the kangaroo and the platypus, and the hippo and whale.
  • The meat-happy book's unintentional humor peaks with diagrams of different animals' anatomies.
  • The anatomy of different oaks has implications for barrel making.
1.2 [count noun] informal A person’s body: every part of his anatomy hurt she was unable to reach for the bag in case she revealed more of her anatomy than she already had
More example sentences
  • Speaking about aches in southern regions of the anatomy, what about Becks's female counterpart, the tennis impostor Anna Kournikova?
  • What other part of the anatomy can I show that is going to top that?
  • Pains in other parts of the anatomy also come to mind whenever I think about him.
2A study of the structure or internal workings of something: a detailed anatomy of a society and its institutions
More example sentences
  • Although several books have been produced recently on sectional anatomy, none appear to be intended as detailed, comprehensive anatomies.
  • Webster employs this episode in a final analysis of the anatomy of contemporary New Zealand anthropology and Maori studies.
  • He has picked up the latest version of the anatomy of GAA positions, but I have only room left to deal with the first line of defence this week.


Late Middle English: from Old French anatomie or late Latin anatomia, from Greek, from ana- 'up' + tomia 'cutting' (from temnein 'to cut').

  • At first anatomy was not just the study of the structure of the human body, it was specifically the practice of cutting up human bodies to learn about them. The word came into English from Greek anatomia, from ana- ‘up’ and tomia ‘cutting’. Anatomy used also to be applied to a skeleton, and in this meaning it was commonly found in the contracted form atomy, as in ‘His sides…looked just like an atomy, ribs and all’ (J. Fenimore Cooper, 1863).

Words that rhyme with anatomy


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