noun, plural: pharynges
(anatomy) The cavity behind the mouth and the nasal cavity and opens to either the esophagus or the larynx
The pharynx is the cavity at the back of the mouth. All vertebrates have pharynx. But not all invertebrates have a pharynx. Invertebrates with a pharynx include the tardigrades, annelids and arthropods, and the priapulids.
In humans, the pharynx is conical in shape and has an average length of 76 mm. It is lined with mucous membrane. It is part of the alimentary canal and the respiratory tract. It is located behind the mouth and the nasal cavity the esophagus and the larynx. The esophagus is the tube that leads to the stomach whereas the larynx is the tube that leads to the lungs. It is in the front part of the neck below the chin and above the collarbone. It is involved in vocalization. Two sets of pharyngeal muscles form the pharynx, i.e. an inner layer of longitudinal muscles and an outer layer of circular muscles. The human pharynx is comprised of three sections: (1) the nasopharynx, (2) the oropharynx, and (3) the laryngopharynx. An inflammation of the pharynx is referred to as pharyngitis.
Word origin: Greek phárunx (“throat”)
- pharyngeal (adjective)