What is the vocabulary in the Homeric dialect for the parts of the body? Collecting these is a somewhat time-consuming process, because often the Greek concepts don't map one-to-one onto the English ones. Therefore it's not as easy as just making a list in English and finding all the translations.

1 Answer 1


I mainly collected these simply by paging through Cunliffe. I also tried to think of body parts as conceptualized by English speakers, and I consulted a thesis by Camagni, Manchester, 2017, https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/files/86865466/FULL_TEXT.PDF . The frequency counts are total occurrences in the Iliad and Odyssey. For inflected forms that don't actually occur in Homer, I've done my best to guess. A spelling like ἰγνύ_η means that the upsilon is long. I've made a couple of recordings involving the relevant grammar and vocabulary: part 1, part 2.

The list includes some animal body parts such as hooves and wings, as well as substances like blood, tears, and ichor. I couldn't find any word for "anus," although there are such terms in Attic. The only word I could find for "finger" occurs in Homer only as part of the set phrase "rosy-fingered dawn." There seems to be no word for "thumb," or for the entire arm or the entire leg. I haven't included non-material terms like θυμός, although it's not really clear to me whether there was a distinction between mind and body. Several words like φρήν, πραπίδες, σπλάγχνα, στέρνον, and ὦμος refer to a material organ but also to some abstract faculty or emotion supposedly seated in that organ.

nom gen frequency gender decl definition notes
ἀγκών ἀγκῶνος 8 m 3 elbow
ἀγοστός ἀγοστοῦ 5 m 2 palm, arm, filth more commonly παλάμη
αἷμα αἵματος 116 n 3 blood
αἰδοῖον αἰδοίου 1 n 2 the genitals in Homer only once as the genitive plural
αὐχήν αὐχένος 40 m 3 neck
βραχίων βραχίονος 6 m 3 upper arm, shoulder
γένειον γενείου 7 n 2 chin
γενειάδες γενειάδων 1 f 3 cheeks sing γενειάς nonexistent in Homer, would mean beard; more common παρήιον
γένυς γένυος 3 f 3 jaw
γλουτός γλουτοῦς 3 m 2 buttock, plural=butt
γλῶσσα γλώσσης 12 f 1 tongue
γόνυ γουνός 122 n 3 knee gen also γούνατος
δάκρυ δάκρυος 103 n 3 tear gen unattested, guessed based on μῶλυος and other forms of δάκρυ, but cf. ἄστυ/ἄστεος; also δάκρυον, δακρύου
δάκτυλος finger, toe only in H in rhododactylos heos; there is no separate word for thumb
δειρή δειρῆς 13 f 1 neck, throat, mane
δέρμα δέρματος 14 n 3 skin, hide
ἐγκέφαλος ἐγκεφάλοιο 10 m 2 brain
ἔντερα ἐντέρου 6 n 2 entrails seldom in singular, indexed by perseus under singular ἔντερον
ἧπαρ ἥπατος 9 n 3 liver
ἦτορ ἤτορος 93 n 3 heart gen unattested in homer, only sing nom & acc occur
θέμεθλα θεμέθλων 4 n 2 eye socket, lower part (of the throat) plural only
θέναρ θέναρος 1 n 3 palm [more commonly παλάμη; outside of Homer, can also mean flat of foot]
θρίξ τριχός 14 f 3 hair
ἰγνύ_η ἰγνύας 1 f 1 back of the knee, hamstring indexed by perseus under ἰγνύα
ἴουλος ἰούλου 1 m 2 whisker occurs as plural ἰούλους
ἰχώρ 2 m 3 blood of a god, various other fluids; accusative ἰχῶ
καρπός καρποῦ 24 m 2 wrist
κεφαλή κεφαλῆς 137 f 1 head
κνήμη κνήμης 16 f 1 calf, lower leg
κόμη κόμης 13 f 1 hair
κοτύλη κοτύλης 5 f 1 hip socket
κρανίον κρανίου 1 n 2 skull
κρόταφος κροτάφοιο 11 m 2 temple of the head
λαπάρη λαπάρης 7 f 1 flank [indexed by perseus under λαπάρα]
λαυκανίη λαυκανίης 2 f 1 throat cf φάρυγξ
λόφος λόφου 15 m 2 nape of the neck also a hill
μαζός μαζοῖο 17 m 2 nipple, female breast, one side of a male chest indexed by perseus under μαστός
μέλος μέλεος 24 m 2 limb
μέτωπον μετώπου 12 n 2 forehead
μήδεα μηδέων 23 genitals, testicles indexed by perseus as the singular μῆδος; is this only male?
μηρός μηροῦ 36 m 2 thigh
μυελός μυελοῦ 4 m 2 marrow
μυ_ών μυ_ῶνος 2 m 3 muscle unattested gen given by Cunliffe, makes sense compared to αἰών
νέκυς νέκυος 78 m 3 dead body cf σῶμα
νεῦρον νεύρου 3 n 2 tendon
νῶτον νώτου 31 n 2 back
ὀδούς ὀδόντος 19 m 3 tooth
ὄμμα ὄμματος 14 n 3 eye
ὄσσε 31 n 2 eyes dual
ὀμφαλός ὀμφαλοῦ 8 m 2 belly button
ὄνυξ ὄνυχος 5 m 3 claw, nail, hoof, talon cf. ὁπλή; in Homer only as dative plural ὀνύχεσσι
ὁπλή ὁπλῆς 2 f 1 hoof cf. ὄνυξ; in Homer only as genitive plural ὁπλέων
οὐρή οὐρῆς f 1 tail
οὖς οὔατος 28 n 3 ear
ὀστέον ὀστέου 46 n 2 bone
οὐλή οὐλῆς 5 f 1 scar
ὀφρύς ὀφρύος 20 f 3 eyebrow
παλάμη παλάμης 22 f 1 palm cf. θέναρ, ἀγοστός
παρήϊον παρήϊου 5 n 2 cheek [text has diar, perseus omits it from lemma; Also occurs as παρήιον, without the diaresis. Homer frequently uses the epithet καλλιπάρῃος, fair-cheeked, for women and goddesses. Attic παρειά.]
πῆχυς πήχεως 8 m 3 the forearm, from the wrist to the elbow acc sing πῆχυν, pl πήχεε
πλευρά πλευρᾶς 5 f 1 rib only in plural
πλόκαμος πλοκάμου 1 m 2 lock of hair from πλέκω, to braid, knit; also πλοχμός
πνεύμων πνεύμονος 1 m 3 lung
πούς 287 foot
πραπίδες πραπίδων 11 f 3 diaphragm, midriff, seat of wisdom and cunning only in plural in Homer, and indexed by perseus under plural
πρόσωπον προσώπου 10 n 2 face
πτέρνη πτέρνης 1 f 1 heel
πτερόν πτεροῦ 10 n 2 feather, wing
ῥάχις ῥάχιος 1 f 3 spine, lower back
ῥί_ς ῥι_νός 15 f 3 nose, nostrils the plural can mean the nose, i.e., it's thought of as an organ in two halves
σπλάγχνα σπλάγχνων 9 n 2 guts, seat of feelings only in plural; famous biblical issue
στέρνον στέρνοιο 19 n 2 breast, chest, seat of feelings for men much more commonly στῆθος
στῆθος στήθεος 191 n 3 breast, chest, seat of feelings
στόμαχος στομάχοιο 3 m 2 throat
σφονδύλιος 1 one of the vertebrae of the neck
σφυρόν σφυροῦ 5 n 2 ankle, foothill
ὑπήνη ὑπήνης f 1 facial hair only in ὑπηνήτης, bearded
χεῖλος χείλευς 10 n 3 lip only in plural, χείλεσιν, χείλεα
χολάδες χολάδος 2 f 3 bowels only in plural; dictionary form is singular χολάς
χροιή 1 flesh, body, person rare variant of χρώς
χρώς χροός 101 f 3 flesh, body, person, visible surface of the flesh (χρόα λευκὸν, μελαίνετο χρόα, etc.) rarely χροιή
στόμα στόματος 28 n 3 mouth
σῶμα σώματος 8 n 3 dead body more commonly νέκυς
φάρυγξ φάρυγος 2 n 3 throat cf λαυκανίη
φρήν φρενός 308 f 3 chest, mind
χείρ χειρός 633 f 3 hand
ὠλένη ὠλένης f 1 elbow, lower arm seems to occur only in the epithet λευκώλενος
ὦμος ὤμου 161 m 2 shoulder thought of as the seat of strength; cog humerus
  • There's also αἰδοῖα "genitals" (of both sexes).
    – TKR
    Nov 23, 2021 at 3:17
  • @TKR: Nice catch, thanks. According to Cunliffe, this occurs exactly once in Homer, in Iliad 13.568. "Meriones, however, following him departing, smote him with his spear between the private parts and the navel, where a wound is particularly painful to miserable mortals." (Buckley) Ow!
    – user3597
    Nov 27, 2021 at 16:09

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