The human cervix is long, like a human neck, but it seems like an overgeneralization to apply the latin root cer to something so geographically far from the neck. Adam Aleksic has an interesting post on the topic.

"This is why by the eighteenth century cervix also began to be applied to the "neck of the womb"; same story with its derivative, cervical. "The part of the uterus" is a more common definition now because it's used much more; people get afflictions down there more often than in the neck. However, it also stands to etymological logic that any malignant tumor above the shoulders can also be considered "cervical cancer"."

I am wondering if anyone has more information or insight.

  • Hmm, in Czech the word "krček" simply means both, the neck as well as the cervix of uterus. To be precise, it is a diminutive of krk which means neck, so it rather means little neck. For me as a native Czech speaker this sounds very natural. And English uses words like bottleneck. Dec 28, 2019 at 16:37
  • The cervix is geographically far from the neck, but it is very close shape-wise. What is so surprising on using the same word for two things resembling each other? Dec 28, 2019 at 16:42
  • The penis isn't the only tubular structure in the body. The anus isn't the only annular structure in the body. The vagina isn't literally a sheath for a sword. We just tend to prefer Latin euphemisms for those body parts because the Germanic words for them are considered vulgar.
    – The Photon
    Dec 28, 2019 at 19:42
  • There are many, many terms in biology that are simply descriptive of the shape of the structure. The terms sound fancy if you don't speak Latin, but something like "lateral geniculate nucleus" in the brain, could have been called in English "knee shaped kernel on the side". The brain is further from the knee than the cervix is from the neck.
    – jimm101
    Jan 19, 2020 at 21:56

2 Answers 2


There are various cervices to be found in human physiology, including not just the cervix uteri alone but also such necks as the cervix vesicae urinariae, the cervix femoris, or even the cervix dentis. That’s because cervix just means “neck” (or here “narrowing”), with the remaining words in the genitive/possessive case, so you have “the neck of the uterus” — or more simply the uterus’s neck, the urinary bladder’s neck, the femur’s neck, or the tooth’s neck.

The cervical vertebrae are the top seven ones up in that neck upon which sits your head, which we number C1–C7 descending from the topmost one.

The Online Biology Dictionary says that cervix means:

neck, a term denoting the front portion of the collum or neck (the part connecting the head and trunk) or a constricted part of an organ (for example cervix uteri).

  • Cervix columnae posterioris medullae spinalis = cervix cornus dorsalis medullae spinalis.

  • Cervix cornus dorsalis medullae spinalis, neck of dorsal horn of spinal cord: the constricted portion of the dorsal horn or column, of grey matter in the spinal cord between the base of the horn and the head, also called cervix cornus posterioris medullae spinalis and neck of posterior horn of spinal cord.

  • Cervix dentis, the slightly constricted region of union of the crown and the root or roots of a tooth, also called collum dentis, dental neck and neck of tooth.

  • Cervix glandis = collum glandis penis.

  • Cervix mallei = collum mallei.

  • Cervix uteri, neck of uterus: the lower and narrow end of the uterus, between the isthmus and the ostium uteri.

(With edits for formatting and abbreviation expansion.)


It appears the term cervix was applied to other human parts than the neck because of similar aspects:

early 15c., "ligament in the neck," from Latin cervix "the neck, nape of the neck," from PIE *kerw-o-, from root *ker- (1) "horn; head." Applied to various neck-like structures of the body, especially that of the uterus (by 1702), where it is shortened from medical Latin cervix uteri (17c.) . Sometimes in medical writing 18c.-19c. cervix of the uterus to distinguish it from the neck sense.



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