pharynx

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pharynx Derived from the Greek for throat, the pharynx is the continuous space behind the nose and the mouth that leads down both to the passage for food and to the passage for air. It has three parts; nasal, oral, and laryngeal. As well as being open to the nose, the nasopharynx is connected to the middle ears by the eustachian (pharyngotympanic) tubes. A passage behind the soft palate leads down to the oral part. When looking at the back of the throat, the arch that can be seen behind the uvula centrally, and behind the tonsils at the sides, is a muscular fold around the opening into the oropharynx. Further down behind the base of the tongue, where the epiglottis stands guard in front of the entry into the larynx (the glottis), the laryngeal part of the pharynx leads down behind that opening to reach the oesophagus. In the wall of the pharynx there are pairs of muscles that join at the centre back and encircle it to reach various attachments in front, including the hyoid bone at the base of the tongue and the cartilage of the ‘Adam's apple’. These muscles can constrict the passages, change the shape of the spaces, or help to close off the different apertures in the various ways that are necessary, for example, during swallowing, speaking, singing, or blowing.

Sheila Jennett


See respiratory system. See also epiglottis; larynx; nose; swallowing; tongue.
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pharynx
1. The tube that connects the mouth to the internal body cavity in which food is digested. In polyps it extends well into the gastrovascular cavity. In Enteropneusta it is extended forward to form the stomochord.

2. In vertebrates, the part of the gut that lies between the buccal cavity and the oesophagus. In primitive vertebrates (e.g. Amphioxus) it occupies almost half the length of the alimentary canal. Probably its original function was connected with the sifting of particles of food, but in lower vertebrates it is concerned with respiration and gill slits or lungs open into it.

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phar·ynx / ˈfaringks/ • n. (pl. pha·ryn·ges / fəˈrinjēz/ or phar·ynx·es ) Anat. & Zool. the membrane-lined cavity behind the nose and mouth, connecting them to the esophagus. ∎ Zool. the part of the alimentary canal immediately behind the mouth in invertebrates.

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pharynx (fa-rinks) n. a muscular tube, lined with mucous membrane, that extends from the beginning of the oesophagus (gullet) up to the base of the skull. It communicates with the posterior nares, Eustachian tube, mouth, larynx, and oesophagus. The pharynx acts as a passageway for food, as an air passage from the nasal cavity and mouth to the larynx, and as a resonating chamber for the sounds produced in the larynx. See hypopharynx, nasopharynx, oropharynx.

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pharynx
1. The cavity in vertebrates between the mouth and the oesophagus and windpipe (trachea), which serves for the passage of both food and respiratory gases. The presence of food in the pharynx stimulates swallowing (see deglutition). In fish and aquatic amphibians the pharynx is perforated by gill slits.

2. The corresponding region in invertebrates.

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pharynxcrux, dux, flux, lux, luxe, tux •afflux • efflux • Benelux • conflux •bollocks, Pollux •flummox, lummox •Lennox • barracks • Trossachs •circs, Merckx, Perks •gasworks • steelworks • printworks •waterworks • calx •Franks, Hanks, Manx, Shanks •Fairbanks • phalanx • Gollancz •spindleshanks •jinks, jinx, lynx, methinks, minx, sphinx •larynx, pharynx •Bronx, Tonks, yonks •Monks • quincunx

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PHARYNX. An anatomical term for the cavity of the upper throat through which air passes from the LARYNX to the mouth and nose. Sounds made in the pharynx are pharyngeal, such as the open back vowel of palm in RP and certain fricative consonants in ARABIC. See GUTTURAL.

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pharynx Cavity at the back of the nose and mouth that extends down towards the oesophagus and trachea. It has muscles for swallowing and is part of the digestive system. Inflammation of the pharynx, usually caused by viral or bacterial infection, is known as pharyngitis.

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pharynx XVII. — modL. — Gr. phárugx (cf. *pháragx cleft, chasm).
Hence pharyng(e)al XIX.

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