Histology Glossary - M

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A Glossary of Histological and Micro-Anatomical Terms

Including historical origins and eponyms compiled by Dr Brian Freeman, Department of Anatomy, School of Medical Sciences, revised 2000.

Histology Glossary: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | ANAT2241 Support | Histology | Histology Stains | Embryology Glossary


Abbreviations: ( ) plural form in brackets, A. Arabic, abb. abbreviation, c. circa =about, F. French adj. adjective, G. Greek, Ge. German, cf. compare, L. Latin, dim. diminutive, NA. Nomina anatomica, q.v. which see, OF. Old French



maceration L. macerare = to make soft; process of softening a solid by steeping it in a liquid.


macrophage G. makros = large + phagein = to eat, hence big-eater; connective tissue cell (derived from monocyte) digesting foreign particles, etc.


macroscopic G. " + skopein = to examine; pertaining to the anatomy seen with the naked eye, i.e., gross anatomy.


macula adherens (maculae adherentes) L. = a spot, a mark + adhaerere = to stick to.


macula cribosa L. " + cribrum = a sieve; site of foramina transmit nerves to saccule, utricle & ampullae of membranous labyrinth.


macula densa L. " + densa = thick; local accumulation of nuclei in distal convoluted tubule of kidney; cf. juxtaglomerular complex.


macula lutea L. " + luteus = yellow; yellow region in the fundus of the eye containing the fovea centralis.


macula sacculi L. " + sacculus = little sac; plaque of thickened sensory epithelium in wall of saccule of membranous labyrinth.


macula utriculi L. " + utriculus = little bag; plaque of thickened sensory epithelium in wall of utricle of membranous labyrinth.


Magendie, François. 1783-1855 Paris pathologist & physiologist; foramen of M. = median aperture of fourth ventricle (1828).


Maier, Rudolf. 1824-1888 German physician; sinus of M. = a depression in lacrimal sac into which open the canaliculi of the lacrimal gland.


malleus L. = a hammer; one of auditory ossicles shaped like round-headed Roman hammer used by butchers for stunning oxen.


Mallory, Frank. 1862-1941 American pathologist; histological stains; M.'s trichrome.


Malpighi, Marcello. 1628-1694 Rome and Bologna anatomist, a founder of microscopic anatomy; Malpighian capsule = splenic capsule; M. corpuscles = white pulp of spleen (1669); M. corpuscles = renal corpuscles; rete Malpighii = stratum germinativum of epidermis; pulmonary alveoli of M.; canal of M. = longitudinal duct of epoöphoron.


mammary adj. L. mamma = breast.


mamillary adj. L. = like a little breast.


manchette F. = a wristband or cuff; collar-like structure forming at neck of developing spermatozoon during spermiogenesis.


Masson, C.L. Pierre. Montreal pathologist 1880-1959; histological trichrome stain.


mast cell Ge. masten = to (over-) feed; connective tissue cell (cf. Ehrlich) filled with many granules of heparin, histamine.


matrix L.= a female animal kept for breeding purposes; a synonym for L. uterus = womb; later, the material which harbours something, as in "mother-of-pearl"; the ground substance of cartilage harbouring the chondrocytes.


Mayer, Paul. German histologist 1848-1923; stain of haematoxylin, alum and iodate.


Meckel, Johann Friedrich (the elder). 1724-1774 Berlin anatomist, botanist & gynaecologist; M.'s cave = dural space lodging the trigeminal ganglion (1748); M.'s ganglion = pterygopalatine ganglion.


Meckel, Johann Friedrich (the younger, grandson of above). 1781-1833 Halle anatomist & surgeon; M.'s cartilage = a bar of cartilage around which embryo's mandible develops (1820); M.'s diverticulum = congenital diverticulum of ileum.


meconium G. mekonion = discharge from bowels of a newborn infant, from G. mecon = poppy (discharge thought by Aristotle to resemble poppy juice).


mediastinum probably a contraction of L. per medium tensum = that which is tight down the middle (not from L. mediastinus = a subordinate domestic slave, a servant at the public baths in Rome); now refers to the mass of connective tissue in the central zone of a region or organ; the central region of the thorax.


mediastinum cerebri an early term for falx cerebri.


mediastinum testis thickened portion of tunica albuginea on the posterior surface of the testis, making a keel-like projection into the region of the rete testis in the interior; body of Highmore, q.v.


medulla (-ae) L. = pith, marrow, inner portion of an organ (from L. medius = in the middle), in contrast to cortex.


medulla oblongata L. " + a barbarism from L. oblongus = rather long; enlarged portion of spinal cord as it enters foramen magnum of occipital bone; a term introduced by Heister (c. 1740) and Haller (c. 1750) which replaced the earlier, more correct term medulla prolongata (L. prologatus = prolonged); cf. ligamentum nuchae.


medulla spinalis L. = spinal cord.


megakaryocyte G. megas = large + karyon = nucleus + kytos = hollow vessel; giant cell in bone marrow with multilobed nucleus.


Meibom, Heinrich. 1638-1700 Helmstädt physician, historian & poet; Meibomian glands = tarsal glands of eyelid (1666).


meiosis G. meion = less; 1. contraction of the pupil; 2. division of a germ cell (gamete) where the number of chromosomes is halved from diploid to haploid.


Meissner, Georg. 1829-1905 Basle histologist & Göttingen physiologist; M.'s corpuscles = sensory corpuscles in dermal papillae of glabrous skin (1852); M.'s plexus = submucosal plexus in intestine (1862).


melanin G. melas = black; natural intracellular brown pigment in eye, skin, etc. ( melancholia = black bile, one of four humours).


melanocyte G. melas = black + kytos = hollow vessel.


melanosome G. " + soma = body; intracellular melanin pigment granules.


membrane any structure in the form of a sheet that separates one region from another, e.g., a layer of cells, a thin layer of connective tissue, a layer of glycocalyx, etc.; plasma (q.v.) membrane = cell membrane.


meniscus G. meniskos = crescent; intra-articular fibrocartilage with crescentic shape.


menix (meninges) G. menix = a membrane, skin on old wine; a membrane in general; specifically, the three membranes around the central nervous system.


menopause G. men = month + pausis = cessation; end of menstrual activity.


menstrual adj. L. menstruus = monthly, from G. men = month; relating to the monthly female sexual cycle.


Merkel, Friedrich Sigmund. 1849-1919 German anatomist; M. cell or M. disc = sensory epithelial cell in stratum basal of epidermis.


merocrine G. meros = a part of + krinein = to separate; exocrine secretion where bulk of cell remains intact during secretion process.


mesangial adj. G. mesos = between + aggeion = a blood vessel (G. " gg " is pronounced " ng "); 1. the mesentery suspending a developing blood vessel; 2. the extravascular tissue of the renal glomerulus.


mesenchyme G. mesos = middle + enchyma = infusion; cells, fibres & fluids derived from mesoderm (middle layer) of embryo.


mesentery G. mesenterion from G. " + enteron = intestine; peritoneal fold encircling most of intestine and reflected onto posterior abdominal wall.


mesoderm G. " + derma = skin; middle cell layer of embryo giving rise to connective tissues, most muscle, circulatory system, urogenital system, etc.


mesonephros G. " + nephros = kidney; embryonic kidney (or Wolffian body) whose function is eventually replaced by metanephros (definitive kidney); middle of 3 stages in animals whose embryos have a pronephros as the first stage.


mesosalpinx G. " + salpinx = tube, trumpet; free margin of broad ligament containing uterine tube.


mesothelium G. " + thele = nipple; epithelium lining coelomic body cavities; most superfical layer of a serous membrane (tunica serosa).


mesovarium NA. = mesentery of the ovary, q.v. (" ovarium " is not Latin).


meta- G. = after, beyond, over.


metachromasia G. " + chroma = colour; change in colour of a dye when it binds to different components of tissue; a metachromatic dye may stain one component differently to the background (or ground substance).


metaphase G. " + phasis = to appear; mitotic stage after prophase when chromosomes appear and line up in equatorial plane.


metaphysis G. " + phyein = to grow; growth region of a long bone, situated between epiphysis and diaphysis.


metaplasia G. " + plasma = something formed; transformation of one kind of tissue into another.


Methyl green a green dye.


microfibril a subunit of a fibril, q.v.


microglia G. mikros = small + glia = glue; a small migratory, phagocytic neuroglial cell of central nervous system.


microscope G. " + skopein = to examine; adj. microscopic, relating to the anatomy seen with a microscope, as opposed to macroscopic anatomy.


microsome G. " + soma = a body; particles derived from centrifugation (at 10,000 times force of gravity) of endoplasmic reticulum.


microtome G " + tome = a cutting, incision; machine for cutting sections for LM.


microvillus G. " + L. villus = tuft of hair; the electron microscopic structure forming striated border of intestinal epithelial cells (Granger & Baker, 1950).


mitochondrion G. mitos = thread + chondrion = grain, granule; cell organelle of variable shape, sometimes thread-like, sometimes granular (Benda, 1897).


mitosis G. " + osis = a condition of; indirect division of somatic cells, in which chromosomes become threads (W. Fleming, 1882); cf. amitosis.


mitral adj. L. mitra from G. = a scarf, a waistband, a turban, a snood (a scarf with strings which could be secured to head); mitral cell = a cell in an olfactory glomerulus, q.v.; mitral valve = the bicuspid left atrioventicular valve.


modiolus L. = a serrated screw or borer; bony axial pillar of cochlea (Eustachius, 1563).


molar L. mola = mill (for grinding).


molecular L. molecula = a little mass;


molecular layer a layer of cerebellar layer consisting mostly of unmyelinated fibres and only a few scattered cells, like the molecules of a gas.


Moll, Jacob Anton. 1832-1914 The Hague ophthalmologist; glands of M. = ciliary glands = apocrine sweat glands of the eyelashes at border of eyelid.


Monro, Alexander (Primus). 1697-1767 Edinburgh anatomist; bursa of M. = bursa intratendinea olecrani.


Monro, Alexander (Secundus). 1733-1817 Succeeded his father (Primus) as Edinburgh anatomist; foramen of M. = interventricular foramen between lateral and third ventricles of brain (1783).


Monro, Alexander (Tertius). 1773-1859 Succeeded his father (Secundus) as Edinburgh anatomist; hypothalamic sulcus of M.


Montgomery, William Fetherston. 1797-1859 Dublin obstetrician; M.'s glands or tubercles = enlarged sebaceous glands projecting from surface of areola of nipple during early pregnancy.


mordant L. mordere = to bite; a substance (e.g., ferric chloride) which allows dye (e.g., Haematoxylin) to bind more efficiently to tissue components.


Morgagni, Giovanni Battista. 1682-1771 Padua anatomist; columns of M. = anal columns; foramen of M. = foramen caecum of tongue; fossa of M. = navicular fossa of urethra; hydatid of M. = appendix testis; lacunae of M. = urethral lacunae; sinus of M. = laryngeal ventricle.


morphology G. morphe = form + logos = study, knowledge.


motile L. motilis = moving; able to move.


motor end-plate a plaque-like site of multiple synapses between a motor nerve and a muscle.


mucin L. mucus from G. muxa = snot, slime; protein constituent of all mucus; occurs as granules in secretory cells.


mucoid L. " + G. -oeides = form; of a type of connective tissue with much mucus; Wharton's jelly.


mucosa (-ae) L. = mucous membrane.


mucus L. = slime (adj. mucous).


Müller, Heinrich. 1820-1864 Würzburg anatomist; M.'s cells or fibres = radial glial cells of retina (1856); M.'s muscle = 1. tarsal or palpebral muscle, 2. circular fibres of ciliary muscle.


Müller, Johannes Peter. 1801-1858 Famous anatomist & physiologist at Berlin (son of a Koblenz bootmaker); teacher of Henle, Virchow, Kölliker, Helmholtz, etc.; Müllerian duct = paramesonephric duct of embryo (1825).


multiparous adj. L. multus = much, many + parire = to bear children.


multipolar L. " + polus = pole; cell with many processes, e.g., a ventral horn motor neurone.


muralium L. murus = a stone wall; system of cells or tissues in interconnected sheets.


muralium osseum L. murus = a stone wall + os = bone; network of cancellous bone.


muscle L. musculus , dim. from G. mys = a mouse, a rat (whose body represents the belly of a muscle, with head and tail representing the tendons).


musculotendinous junction a junction between skeletal muscle and tendon involving endomysium.


myelin G. myelos = marrow; lipoprotein sheath around axons (Virchow, 1854).


myelocoele G. " + koilos = hollow; the marrow cavity of the spine; pathological protrusion of spinal medulla.


myeloid adj. G. " + -oeides = form; of bone marrow tissue.


myenteric G. mys = muscle + enteron = intestine (cf. Auerbach).


myo- G. mys = a mouse, a muscle, q.v.


myocardium G."+ kardia = heart.


myoepithelial a contactile cell derived from ectoderm (as opposed to mesoderm).


myofibril G. mys = a mouse, a muscle + L. fibrilla = small fibre; intracellular arrangement of contractile proteins in myocytes.


myofilament muscle protein filament, made mainly of actin, or myosin.


myometrium G. " + metra = uterus.





Histology Glossary: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | ANAT2241 Support | Histology | Histology Stains | Embryology Glossary

Cite this page: Hill, M.A. 2017 Embryology Histology Glossary - M. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/Histology_Glossary_-_M

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