General English

General Science

  • noun the inner structure of the body of an animal or plant
  • noun the scientific study of the structure of the body
  • noun the description of the structure and shape of a particular part


  • noun the structure, especially the internal structure, of the body
  • noun the branch of science that studies the structure of the bodies of humans, animals and plants
  • abbreviationanat.

Origin & History of “anatomy”

Etymologically, anatomy means ‘cutting up’ (the Greek noun anatomíā was compounded from the prefix ana- ‘up’ and the base *tom-, which figures in several English surgical terms, such as tonsillectomy (19th c.), as well as in atom and tome), and when it first came into English it meant literally ‘dissection’ as well as ‘science of bodily structure’. From the 16th century to the early 19th century it was also used for ‘skeleton’, and in this sense it was often misanalysed as an atomy, as if the initial an- were the indefinite article: ‘My bones … will be taken up smooth, and white, and bare as an atomy’, Tobias Smollett, Don Quixote 1755.