Human anatomy is hard. There are many levels to it and it only seems to get more complex the deeper you go.
Human anatomy quotes though? They’re a bit more straightforward…
I’ve curated a mix of 35 of them; the powerful, funny, spiritual, frightening and everything else, together in a single post.
I’ve even thrown in some cadaver lab caption ideas at the end too!
Perfect for your med student bios, insta photos, class presentations or whatever else.
Funny Human Anatomy Quotes
The best place to start? Comedy.
#1 “No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.”
This one is attributed to French (no real surprise there) novelist Honore de Balzac. Known for his multi-faceted character-driven narratives, we’re not sure exactly where the inspiration for this one came from…
#2 “Whoever named it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.”
“Necking” refers to kissing. Which, as Groucho Marx, from whom this quote is taken, points out doesn’t make sense.
Now I’m no expert in anatomy (OK, I did well) but most people know the neck and the lips are two different areas of human anatomy right?
#3 “Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.”
American humorist Erma Bombeck came up with this. Would everything be prettier if designers just took anatomy classes?
#4 “Anatomy lessons are much more fun when conducted in a private coed environment.”
American Dixie Waters, author of You Complete My Heart, seems to know how best to study anatomy!
#5 “As for anatomy, my butcher can dissect a joint full as well; no, young man, all that is stuff; you must go to the bedside, it is there alone you can learn disease!”
It’s fair to say English physician Thomas Sydenham wasn’t that big of a fan of anatomy. This quote is in direct response to one of his students!
Anatomy Quotes About The Heart
#6 “The heart is an exceedingly strong muscle…It contains two separate cavities.”
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said this. Bit of a mistake, looking back on it. Technically, it has four cavities; two atria and two ventricles!
#7 “The heart is an anatomy vital to the body, turn your attention towards it and be its friend, removing unnecessary hatred, jealousy and arrogance, and the beauty of other hearts will hop along the trail to finding yours”
Medical oncologist Saaima Sarif is credited with this one. Makes you think!
#8 “It is infinitely better to transplant a heart than to bury it to be devoured by worms.”
This is a quote from South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard. Barnard was a pioneer, the surgeon who performed the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant operation.
#9 “Rheumatic fever licks at the joints, but bites at the heart.”
The only attribution I could find for this quote was anonymous. Clearly sounds like someone who knew their microbiology and pathology though….
#10 “The heart is the only organ that takes no rest.”
German-American physician and writer Martin Fischer came up with this. He’s 100% right of course. There’s no “rest and digest” moment for this organ.
Quotes About Parts Of The Body
#11 “Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons.”
American humorist and literary critic Will Cuppy goes deep on Aristotle. Exceptions to the rule? Always.
#12 In the imperfect records left of the anatomy of the ancient Egyptians, no trace of any knowledge of the spleen can be ascertained.
British anatomist and surgeon Henry Gray, founder of Gray’s Anatomy, came up with this. Safe to say he knew a thing or two…
#13 “The task of the cervix is to stay closed, to make an impenetrable wall protecting the fetus, for approximately forty weeks of a pregnancy. After that, by means of labor, the wall must somehow become an opening. This happens through dilation, which is not a shattering, but an extreme thinning.”
This is a quote from American writer Maggie Nelson, taken from her 2015 book The Argonauts. Nelson describes it as a reflection on 20 years of libing and learning from feminist and queer theory.
#14 “The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.”
Mary Roach, author of Packing For Mars, is attributed to this quote.
#15 “My fundamental premise about the brain is that its workings – what we sometimes call “mind” – are a consequence of its anatomy and physiology, and nothing more.”
One of my favorite science writers, Carl Sagan, said this.
#16 “No knowledge can be more satisfactory to a man than that of his own frame, its parts, their functions and actions.”
Although it’s more of a generalist quote, I still thought it was interesting. It’s from one of the U.S. Founding Fathers (and former presidents), Thomas Jefferson.
Dissection Quotes/Cadaver Lab Quotes
#17 “Anatomy lab, in the end, becomes less a violation of the sacred and more something that interferes with happy hour, and that realization discomfits. In our rare reflective moments, we were all silently apologizing to our cadavers, not because we sensed the transgression but because we did not.”
This is from physician Paul Kalanithi, author of the beautiful book When Breath Becomes Air (it’s on my list of recommendations).
Critical reading for anyone interested in working in healthcare.
#18 “I learn anatomy not from books but from dissections, not from tenets of Philosophers but from the fabric of nature”
English physician William Harvey said this.
Possibly a bit abstract for most modern day healthcare students…
#19 “Those who have dissected or inspected many [bodies] have at least learnt to doubt; while others who are ignorant of anatomy and do not take the trouble to attend it are in no doubt at all.”
Famed Italian anatomist, Giovanni Battista Morgagni, author of this quote, wasn’t one for skipping anatomy lectures!
#20 “During my first semester of medical school, I cannot know how the emotional difficulty of the actions we perform on our cadavers will help us prepare for the agonizing moments we will observe in the lives of the living.”
This is a quote from Christine Montross’s beautiful 2008 book Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab.
Another critical read for students keen to know more about the deeper impact that studying anatomy and physiology brings.
Quotes About The Complexity of the Human Body
#21 The most complex object in the known universe, the brain, only uses 20 watts of power. It would require a nuclear power plan to energise a computer the size of a city block to mimic your brain…
Renowned American physicist Michio Kaku is attributed here.
#22 “The human body is the most complex system ever created. The more we learn about it, the more appreciation we have about what a rich system it is.”
This is from Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
#23 “The formation in geological time of the human body by the laws of physics…starting from a random distribution of elementary particles and the field is as unlikely as the separation of the atmosphere into its components.”
German-Austrian logician, mathematician and philospher Kurt Godel came up with this. Sounds like he had an appreciation for anatomy.
#24 “The human body is simply the most beautiful complexity.”
Physician Daniel Ismeria knows where it’s at.
#25 “We are unconscious of most of our body’s processes, thank goodness, because we’d screw it up if we weren’t. The human body is so complex, with so many parts…a system which is far more complex than we can fully imagine.”
American evolutionary theorist and educator Lynn Margulis spent decades studying the human body. This was her conclusion…
#26 “Just one living cell in the human body is, more complex than New York City.”
Chemist Linus Pauling sells the body’s complexity with this easy to grasp metaphor.
#27 “Looking in detail at human anatomy, I’m always left with two practically irreconcilable thoughts: our bodies are wonderful, intricate masterpieces; and then – they are cobbled-together, rag-bag, sometimes clunking machines.”
English anthropologist and biologist Alice Roberts, can appreciate both sides of the dichotomy.
How can we look so simple but at the same time be so complex?
Spiritual Quotes About The Human Body
#28 “We humans are a complex interwoven system of the body, the mind, and the spirit. We are formed and informed by the interplay of these systems.”
French novelist Ann Scott has a way with words…
#29 “The human body is the best picture of the human soul.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian-British philosopher famed for his work in logic, gets pretty close to his spiritual side with this quote.
#30 “The human heart is a piece of great mystery. It has no eyes, yet it sees. It has no mouth, yet it speaks. It has no brain, yet it’s the most cunning thing God ever made.”
Nigerian poet Nkwachukwu Ogbuagu looks at human anatomy and sees the work of God at play.
#31 “Before you examine the body of a patient, be patient to learn his story. For once you learn his story, you will also come to know his body.”
American thinker Suzy Kassem has lots of interesting things to say. Here’s only one of them.
#32 “Anatomy is to physiology as geography is to history; it describes the theatre of events.”
French physician Jean Fernel spent a whole career trying to define A&P. This makes a great introduction to it’s importance.
#33 “In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life.”
Another one of my favorite authors, and an inspiration for me going to med school; Oliver Sacks, is attributed to this.
Cadaver Lab Captions
#34 “Anatomy is destiny.”
A particularly dramatic one from Sigmund Freud. How’s that for impactful?
#35 “So, if anatomy is destiny then testosterone is doom.”
And here’s Al Goldstein’s comedic-style response to Freud…
Bonus Cadaver Lap Captions
The following are a collection of one-liners or funny captions you could use along with relevant photos.
Perfect for that Instagram shot!
- Anatomy jokes are cornea
- Do you know what really makes me smile? facial muscles
- A femury christmas and a hippy new year
- hey girl, you’re pullin’ on my chordae tedineae and it hurts so good
- Sometimes it freaks me out that here is a skeleton living inside me
- I ulna want to be with you
- Label me, like one of your French girls
- Home is where the heart is. False, the heart is located inside the pericardium.
- It’s going tibia okay
- The technical term for your butt crack is intergluteal cleft
Interested In Human Anatomy?
If these quotes have piqued your curiosity and you’re keen to learn more about the intensely fascinating topic of human anatomy, then I’ve got an additional recommendation.
Daniel E. Lieberman’s book The Story of The Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease, is an amazing read.
I got through it in the summer before starting med school and it primed me perfectly for the next two years in the cadaver lab and dissection hall.
It’s not an atlas or anatomy teaching resource by any means, rather an entertaining history of how we became two-legged omnivores capable of weathering crazy conditions…
Here’s a quick taste of it, with my favorite quote:
“The fundamental answer to why so many humans are now getting sick from previously rare illnesses is that many of the body’s features were adapted in environments from which we evolved, but have become maladapted in the modern environments we have now created. This idea, known as the mismatch hypothesis, is the core of the new emerging field of evolutionary medicine, which applies evolutionary biology to health and disease.”Daniel E. Lieberman
Final Thoughts: Human Anatomy Quotes
The quotes above? Hopefully tickled or inspired you a little.
Anatomy is hard but awesome!
If you liked this article, you might find the following a great read too:
- 6 Best YouTube Channels For Anatomy Beginners
- How To Prepare For Cadaver Lab (A Med Student’s Guide)
- 15 Best Motivational Medical School Quotes (Use These To Keep You Going!)
Image Credit: @Robina Weermeijer at Unsplash
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.