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tongue

tongue The tongue plays an essential part in three main processes: in moving food around in the mouth — towards the teeth for mastication, and towards the throat for swallowing; in the special sense of taste; and in normal speech production. It is covered by a mucous membrane that is continuous with the lining of the rest of the mouth and the throat; this is kept moist by the mucous saliva secreted from small glands in its own surface as well as from the main salivary glands. The characteristic roughness of the healthy tongue is due to four types of papillae that cover the top and sides of the front two-thirds. These are outgrowths of the epithelium — the covering layer — and are of various shapes and sizes. Three types of papillae contain taste buds; the largest but least numerous of the papillae, found towards the back of the tongue, have taste buds arrayed in grooves that surround them.

The bulk of the tongue is made up of a set of muscles attached at one end to hard tissues external to the tongue and inserted at the other end into the fibrous tissue of the tongue itself; these are the extrinsic muscles. There are, in addition, vertical and transverse intrinsic muscle fibres that are attached at both ends to fibrous tissue within the tongue; their prime function is to alter the shape of the tongue. The tongue musculature is largely contained within a fibrous sac, so the whole maintains a constant volume irrespective of its shape.

There are three main paired extrinsic mus-cles on each side; their attachments allow the production of the three main components of tongue movement:

The genioglossus muscles take origin from the middle of the back of the lower jaw and have a fan-like insertion into each side of the midline of the tongue. Their contraction protrudes the tongue.

The hyoglossus muscles take origin from each side of the horseshoe-shaped hyoid bone. (This lies below the tongue and is suspended by a sling of muscles from the jaw and the skull.) They extend forward into the tongue at the sides of the genioglossus muscles. Their contraction shortens the tongue towards its base on the hyoid.

The styloglossus muscles take origin from the styloid process on the base of the skull and pass downwards and forwards into side edges of the tongue. Their contraction elevates the sides of the tongue, forming a gutter in the middle.

During feeding, contraction of the styloglossus muscle of one side causes that side of the tongue to tilt upwards. Consequently, solid food is moved to the opposite side of the mouth, placing it between the occluding surfaces of the teeth for chewing. In contrast, all movements involved in the intra-oral transport of food, and in swallowing, are bilaterally symmetrical, so that the bolus moves in the midline.

During mastication, the mechanosensory function of the tongue is essential for the ability to sort the broken particles of food so that the largest remaining particles are always preferentially selected for placement between the occluding teeth. The mechanosensory receptors in the mucosa have an additional role because the control of tongue posture depends mainly upon information supplied by them. The nerves that carry the information to the brain stem for this and for the sense of taste are the cranial nerves V, VII (taste), and IX (the trigeminal, facial, and glossopharyngeal nerves). The motor nerve from the brain stem to most of the tongue muscles is the hypoglossal (XII).

During speech, movements of the tongue take part, along with those of the jaw, the lips, and the cheeks, in the complex configurations of this part of the ‘vocal tract’ that are necessary for articulation.

Looking at the tongue is a diagnostic tradition. It can become coated, glossy, or smoothed in a variety of systemic illnesses, but most changes are non-specific. Because the tongue is essentially a bag of muscles, a drop in the activity of those muscles makes the bag floppy so that its posture is governed primarily by gravity. Failure to maintain the tongue in a forward position, by maintaining contraction of the genioglossus muscles, may therefore restrict or block the airway, especially if a person is lying on their back. Such a blockage can occur in someone who is unconscious from any cause — from fainting to brain damage. Under normal circumstances the converse also applies: a restriction of airflow causes a reflex increase in genioglossus activity.

Allan Thexton


See alimentary system.See also jaw; mouth; speech; swallowing; taste.

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tongue

tongue / ng/ • n. 1. the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth of a mammal, used for tasting, licking, swallowing, and (in humans) articulating speech. ∎  the equivalent organ in other vertebrates, sometimes used (in snakes) as a scent organ or (in chameleons) for catching food. ∎  an analogous organ in insects, formed from some of the mouthparts and used in feeding. ∎  the tongue of a hoofed mammal, in particular an ox or lamb, as food. ∎  used in reference to a person's style or manner of speaking: he was a redoubtable debater with a caustic tongue. ∎  a particular language: the prioress chatted to the peddler in a strange tongue. ∎  (tongues ) see the gift of tongues below. 2. a thing resembling or likened to a tongue, in particular: ∎  a long, low promontory of land. ∎  a strip of leather or fabric under the laces in a shoe, attached only at the front end. ∎  the pin of a buckle. ∎  a projecting strip on a wooden board fitting into a groove on another. ∎  the vibrating reed of a musical instrument or organ pipe. ∎  a jet of flame: a tongue of flame flashes four feet from the gun. • v. (tongues , ton·gued , ton·guing / ˈtənging/ ) [tr.] 1. Mus. sound (a note) distinctly on a wind instrument by interrupting the air flow with the tongue. 2. lick or caress with the tongue: the other horse tongued every part of the colt's mane. PHRASES: find (or lose) one's tongue be able (or unable) to express oneself after a shock. get one's tongue around pronounce (words): she found it very difficult to get her tongue around the unfamiliar words. the gift of tongues the power of speaking in unknown languages, regarded as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). give tongue (of hounds) bark, esp. on finding a scent. ∎  express one's feelings or opinions freely, sometimes objectionably so. keep a civil tongue in one's head speak politely.speak in tongues speak in an unknown language during religious worship. (with) tongue in cheek without really meaning what one is saying or writing. someone's tongue is hanging out someone is very eager for something: the tabloids have their tongues hanging out for this stuff.DERIVATIVES: tongue·less adj. ORIGIN: Old English tunge, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch tong, German Zunge and Latin lingua.

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TONGUE

TONGUE. A flexible mass of tissue attached to the lower back of the mouth of most vertebrate animals; an aid to chewing and swallowing, the organ of taste, and an important component in the articulation of SPEECH. Words for ‘tongue’ in many languages stand for speech itself. English has a number of words and phrases of different origin which do this: language, through French langue, from Latin lingua, tongue; linguistics, directly from Latin; polyglot and isogloss, from the Greek glṓssa, tongue; the phrases mother tongue, foreign tongue, and the Biblical gift of tongues; such idioms as Has the cat got your tongue? (said to someone who will not speak), to bite one's tongue (to remain silent despite provocation), it's on the tip of my tongue (I know it but I can't quite recall it), Hold your tongue (Be quiet).

In terms of anatomy and PHONETICS, the tongue has five parts: the tip (of the tongue), the blade (of the tongue), the front (of the tongue), the back (of the tongue), and the root, which lies not in the mouth but in the pharynx. Sounds made at the tip (the ‘apex’ of the tongue) are apical. The blade is immediately behind the tip, lies opposite the alveolar ridge of the upper mouth when the tongue is in a state of rest, and sounds made with the blade (Latin lamina) are laminal. The area behind the blade is the front, which lies opposite the hard palate when the tongue is in a state of rest, and sounds made with the front are palatal. The back of the tongue lies opposite the soft palate or velum when the tongue is in a state of rest, and sounds made with the back include velar consonants and back vowels.

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tongue

tongue, muscular organ occupying the floor of the mouth in vertebrates. In some animals, such as lizards, anteaters, and frogs, it serves a food-gathering function. In humans, the tongue functions principally in chewing, swallowing, and speaking. The human tongue is covered by a mucous membrane containing small projections called papillae, which give it a rough surface. Tiny taste organs, or buds, are scattered over the surface of three of the four types of papillae, with large numbers concentrated on papillae found on the back and sides of the tongue. The appearance of the tongue is often an indication of body health; a pinkish-red color is normal. In impairment of the digestion and in certain feverish diseases, a yellowish coating forms. Local infection of the tongue is called thrush.

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"tongue." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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tongue

tongue the gift of tongues in the Christian Church, the ability to speak in a language unknown to the speaker, or to vocalize freely, usually in the context of religious (especially pentecostal or charismatic) worship, identified as a gift of the Holy Spirit.
the tongue always returns to the sore tooth proverbial saying, late 16th century, meaning that the mind constantly returns to a source of worry.
tongue in cheek without really meaning what one is saying or writing; putting one's tongue in one's cheek is a traditional gesture of sly humour.

See also the Devil makes his Christmas pies of lawyers' tongues and clerks' fingers at devil, the rough side of someone's tongue, a still tongue makes a wise head.

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tongue

tongue (tung) n. a muscular organ attached to the floor of the mouth. It is covered by mucous membrane and its surface is raised in minute projections (papillae), which give it a furred appearance. Taste buds are arranged in grooves around the papillae. The tongue helps in manipulating food during mastication and swallowing; it is the main organ of taste; and it plays an important role in the production of articulate speech. Anatomical name: glossa.

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tongue

tongue A muscular organ of vertebrates that in most species is attached to the floor of the mouth. It plays an important role in manipulating food during chewing and swallowing and in terrestrial species it bears numerous taste buds on its upper surface. In some advanced vertebrates the tongue is used in the articulation of sounds, particularly in human speech.

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"tongue." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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tongue

tongue Muscular organ usually rooted to the floor of the mouth. The tongue contains the taste buds and helps to move food around the mouth for chewing and swallowing; animals also use it for lapping fluids and for grooming. In human beings, the tongue is vital for the production of speech. See also senses

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tongue

tongue. Narrow projection or feather just below the middle of the edge of a timber board: it fits into a groove or slit along the edge of the adjacent board, in floors, etc., hence tongued-and-grooved.

2. Another name for a tenon (See mortice and tenon).

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tongue

tongue From various animals, e.g. lamb, ox, sheep. A 150‐g portion is an exceptionally rich source of iron, a rich source of protein, niacin, and vitamin B2; contains about 35 g of fat and supplies 450 kcal (1900 kJ).

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tongue

tongue muscular organ in the mouth; speech, language OE.; tongue-like object XVI. OE. tunge = OS. tunga (Du. tong), OHG. zunga (G. zunge), ON. tunga, Goth. tuggō :- Gmc. *tunʒōn, rel. to L. lingua — *dingua.

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"tongue." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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tongue

tongueamong, bung, clung, dung, flung, hung, lung, outflung, rung, shantung, slung, sprung, strung, stung, sung, swung, tongue, underslung, wrung, young •aqualung • hamstrung • ox tongue

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