AskDefine | Define hyoid

Dictionary Definition

hyoid adj : of or relating to the hyoid bone n : a U-shaped bone at the base of the tongue that supports the tongue muscles [syn: hyoid bone, os hyoideum]

User Contributed Dictionary



From hyoïde, from modern hyoides, from ‘shaped like the letter ’.




  1. Shaped like a U, or like the letter upsilon; specifically, designating a bone or group of bones supporting the tongue.
    • 1969: The hyoid bone in her throat flutters as if discharging some subvocal rosary. — JG Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition


  1. The hyoid bone.
    • 1973: the vulture, relinquishing its title, surely in natural justice gave me a right to this femur, this curiously distorted hyoid? — Patrick O'Brian, HMS Surprise

Extensive Definition

The hyoid bone (Lingual Bone) is a bone in the neck, and is the only bone in the human skeleton not articulated to any other bone. It is supported by the muscles of the neck and in turn supports the root of the tongue.
The hyoid bone is shaped like a horseshoe, and is suspended from the tips of the styloid processes of the temporal bones by the stylohyoid ligaments.


It consists of five segments:


The hyoid is ossified from six centers: two for the body, and one for each cornu. Ossification commences in the greater cornua toward the end of fetal life, in the body shortly afterward, and in the lesser cornua during the first or second year after birth.

Muscle attachments

The following muscles attach to the hyoid:


Though the hyoid bone is present in many mammals, its descent in living creatures is unique to Homo sapiens, allowing for the production of a wide range of sounds that animals cannot produce. It allows a wider range of tongue, pharyngeal and laryngeal movements by bracing these structures alongside each other in order to produce variation. As such, it was also present in virtually identical form in Neanderthal man. That suggests, along with other anthropological clues of communication, that the Neanderthal were capable of employing some form of spoken language.


Due to its position, the hyoid bone is not usually easy to fracture in most situations. In cases of suspicious death, a fractured hyoid is a strong sign of strangulation.


Its name is derived from the Greek word hyoeides meaning "shaped like the letter upsilon" (υ).

Additional images

Image:Illu larynx.jpg|Larynx ’s cartilage and hyoid bar exposed. Image:Larynx external en.svg|The ligaments of the larynx. Antero-lateral view.


External links

  • - "Anterior Triangle of the Neck: The Muscular Triangle"
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hyoid in Bulgarian: Подезична кост
hyoid in German: Zungenbein
hyoid in Spanish: Hioides
hyoid in Esperanto: Hioido
hyoid in French: Os hyoïde
hyoid in Latin: Os hyoideum
hyoid in Latvian: Mēles kauls
hyoid in Lithuanian: Poliežuvinis kaulas
hyoid in Dutch: Tongbeen
hyoid in Japanese: 舌骨
hyoid in Polish: Kość gnykowa
hyoid in Portuguese: Osso hióide
hyoid in Slovak: Jazylka
hyoid in Slovenian: Podjezičnica
hyoid in Serbian: Подјезична кост
hyoid in Finnish: Kieliluu
hyoid in Swedish: Tungben
hyoid in Tamil: தொண்டை எலும்பு
hyoid in Thai: กระดูกไฮออยด์
hyoid in Ukrainian: Під'язикова кістка
hyoid in Chinese: 舌骨
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