What is the name of the area that is between the nose and the upper lip, circled in figure 1 below?

enter image description here

source of face image

I have found that the area circled in figure 2, the small indentation under the nose, is called the "philtrum," which is what the many searches I have tried have yielded, but I cannot figure out what the entire area is called.


The upper lip, the image below is from the wiki entry on philtrum.

Image of the Face

  • 2
    Okay, but then what is the "top half" of the lip called? The "upper lip" seems to me that it is referring to the part of the lip right above the mouth.
    – Doorknob
    Apr 29 '14 at 2:23
  • 8
    @Doorknob - Elliot has named it correctly. The upper lip is skin-covered, skin-colored, and hairy. The pink parts are called the upper and lower vermilion, the border between the skin and the vermilion is called the vermilion border, the wet, shiny inner portion of what people call the "lips" is called the wet vermilion or the mucosa. So, you see, Elliot has given you the accurate response. How do I know? From studying the anatomy of the lips, having had to suture lip lacerations about a couple hundred times. Apr 29 '14 at 2:38
  • 1
    Actually, OP is asking the name of the upper half of the upper lip. There is no specific name for that.
    – 0..
    Apr 29 '14 at 3:44
  • 2
    It is sometimes called "upper cutaneous lip" or "cutaneous upper lip" though. Because that is the skin part of the upper lip.
    – 0..
    Apr 29 '14 at 4:02
  • 1
    @medica: I don't think so. Upper lip = upper skin part + upper vermilion
    – 0..
    Apr 29 '14 at 4:31

This is a good question because there is no simple answer. One of the problems is that 'lips' and 'lower/upper lip' refer to different things.

It seems there is broad agreement about what 'lips' means. They almost always refer to the pink part (i.e. what you apply lip balsem or lipstick to).

But there is less agreement about 'lower/upper lip'. The accepted definition is that these words refer to both the pink and the skin-colored part. This is different from what 'lips' means, so that obviously leads to confusion. A lot of people use 'upper/lower lip' to refer to just the pink part.

So, we've been talking about 'just the pink part' and 'both the pink part and the skin-colored part'. What about 'just the skin-colored part'? Well, in colloquial English, there is no dedicated word for that. (Some people will answer 'philtrum', but as you have already indicated, this is wrong because it only refers to the part between the ridges in the center.)

But we still need a word, so we can just use a medical/scientific term to refer to "the skin-colored part of the lip". This leads to the often used term cutaneous lip.

Here's a summary of the correct names.

  • The lips usually refer to just the pink parts.
  • The upper lip is everything between the mouth opening and the base of the nose.
  • The lower lip is everything between the mouth opening and the chin.
  • The vermilion zone is the pink, non-wet part of the lips.
  • The cutaneous lip is the skin-colored part of the lips.

So the best answer to the original question would be cutaneous upper lip.


Yes, there is. I believe the pronunciation is the following: Ahm bro shwah

The actual word is spelled embouchure. Trumpet players refer to this... (you can spot dentures because they have a flat ahm bro shwah.)

  • 2
    You're thinking of embrochure, and that refers to the shape of the entire mouth, not simply the upper lip.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 9 '15 at 19:39
  • 3
    Embouchure, not embrochure.
    – phenry
    Feb 9 '15 at 20:19

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