I'd like to find a hypernym for human organs such as liver and lung, body parts such as left upper arm, piece of muscle such as biceps, and other systems such as human body fat, body fluids. Is there a proper word I can use to refer to these?

Edit: How about just "anatomical component"?

  • A fantascience writer would have a hard time finding the right single word, but with two words you could use "organic matter".
    – user19148
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 20:50
  • This doesn't emphasize enough that the thing referred must be a "part" from human body. I.e. if a part of bone and a part of flesh nearby is grabbed out, this bag of material may be called "organic matter", but in my use case, i never encounter that. It's always either the bone, or the flesh, never mixture.
    – qazwsx
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 22:52
  • 1
    It seems like there might be an "offal" lot we don't know about the proposed context of use....
    – mikeY
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 22:53
  • Well, i just need a proper categorical name to include instances such as "body fat", "blood", "XXX bone", "lungs", "liver", "testes", ....
    – qazwsx
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 22:59

3 Answers 3


I wonder what's wrong with body parts. That phrase can be used for:

All of these can be (and sometimes are) referred to as body parts.


These are usually called tissue:

tissue n.
5. Biology An aggregation of morphologically similar cells and associated intercellular matter acting together to perform one or more specific functions in the body. There are four basic types of tissue: muscle, nerve, epidermal, and connective.

  • Can you really use "tissue" to bones or body fluids?
    – qazwsx
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 20:09
  • @user1664196 Tissue does specifically include bodily fluids, yes; blood is a tissue, specifically a connective tissue. Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 21:12
  • @Mark, yes blood is a tissue, but there are other organic fluids which are not tissues.
    – user19148
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 21:17
  • @Carlo_R. Such as ...?
    – qazwsx
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 22:56
  • @user1664196 yes, "saliva" and "sweat" are the firsts I can think of; and, as far as I know, they are not "tissues".
    – user19148
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 23:11

Corpus. Corpora (pl.)

Anatomy. a body, mass, or part having a special character or function.

Corpora may be better if you're including disparate parts.

  • I didn't know "corpus" has this meaning. Seems proper for the use case i need. But does this apply to fluids such as blood?
    – qazwsx
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 22:55
  • I think this has the same limiting factor as tissue, in that it would cover blood but not something like sweat.
    – Lynn
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 0:27
  • Without proposing any context for use, I would say that sweat and saliva and tears and such would all be implied in this word...Unless we're talking about only sweat, in which case we can just call it fluid.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 6:28
  • A corpus can refer to an organ or a part of an organ. Blood, as previously stated, is a tissue. As an organ is made up of multiple tissues, blood could be "part of an organ," but, in that case, we'd be stretching the definition. As such, I think "corpora" is better than corpus, but it may not rope in all of these disparate parts as neatly as you like.
    – tylerharms
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 11:43

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