forked tongue

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forked tongue

Etymology: L, furca + AS, tunge
a tongue divided by a longitudinal fissure. Also called bifid tongue, slit tongue.


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A freely movable muscular organ that lies partly in the floor of the mouth and partly in the pharynx. It is the organ of taste and contributes also to chewing, swallowing, and speech. Synonym: lingua See: illustration


The tongue consists of a body and root and is attached by muscles to the hyoid bone below, the mandible in front, the styloid process behind, and the palate above, and by mucous membrane to the floor of the mouth, the lateral walls of the pharynx, and the epiglottis. A median fold (frenulum linguae) connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. The surface of the tongue bears numerous papillae of three types: filiform, fungiform, and circumvallate (or vallate). Taste buds are present on the surfaces of many of the papillae, esp. the vallate papillae. Mucous and serous glands (lingual glands) are present; their ducts open on the surface. The lingual tonsils are lymphatic tissue on the base of the tongue. A median fibrous septum extends the entire length of the tongue.

Arteries: The lingual, exterior maxillary, and ascending pharyngeal arteries supply blood to the tongue. Muscles: Extrinsic muscles include genioglossus, hypoglossus, and styloglossus; intrinsic muscles consist of four groups: superior, inferior, transverse, and vertical lingualis muscles. The hypoglossal nerves are motor to the tongue; the facial and glossopharyngeal nerves are sensory for taste. Nerves: Lingual nerve (containing fibers from trigeminal and facial nerves), glossopharyngeal, vagus, and hypoglossal.

bifid tongue

A tongue with a cleft at its anterior end. Synonym: cleft tongue; forked tongue

black hairy tongue

Elongation and discoloration (brown, black or white) of the filiform papillae found on the dorsal, middle to posterior third of the tongue. It is associated with alcohol, smoking, toothpaste and mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide, and liquid aniacids.

burning tongue

Burning mouth syndrome.

cleft tongue

Bifid tongue.

coated tongue

A tongue covered with a layer of whitish or yellowish material consisting of desquamated epithelium, bacteria, or food debris. The significance of this is difficult to interpret. It may mean only that the patient slept with the mouth open or has not eaten because of loss of appetite. If darkly coated, it may indicate a fungus infection.

dry tongue

A tongue that is dry and shriveled, usually indicative of dehydration. It may also be the result of mouth breathing.

fern-leaf tongue

A tongue possessing a prominent central furrow and lateral branches.

filmy tongue

A tongue possessing symmetrical whitish patches.

fissured tongue

Scrotal tongue.

forked tongue

Bifid tongue.

furred tongue

A coated tongue on which the surface epithelium appears as a coat of white fur. It is seen in nearly all fevers. Unilateral furring may result from disturbed innervation, as in conditions affecting the second and third branches of the fifth nerve. It has been noted in neuralgia of those branches and in fractures of the skull involving the foramen rotundum. Yellow fur indicates jaundice.
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geographic tongue

A tongue with white raised areas, normal epithelium, and atrophic regions. This condition is also known as benign migratory glossitis.
See: illustration

hairy tongue

A tongue covered with hairlike papillae entangled with threads produced by the fungi Aspergillus niger or Candida albicans. This condition is usually seen as the result of antibiotic therapy that inhibits growth of bacteria normally present in the mouth, permitting overgrowth of fungi. Synonym: glossotrichia; lingua nigra

magenta tongue

A physical finding in patients with riboflavin deficiency.

parrot tongue

A dry shriveled tongue seen in typhus.

raspberry tongue

Strawberry tongue.

Sandwith bald tongue

See: Sandwith bald tongue

scrotal tongue

A furrowed and rugated tongue, resembling the skin of the scrotum.
Synonym: fissured tongue

smoker's tongue


smooth tongue

A tongue with atrophic papillae. It is characteristic of many conditions, such as anemia and malnutrition.

split tongue

A cleft or bifid tongue resulting from developmental arrest.

strawberry tongue

A tongue that first has a white coat except at the tip and along the edges, with enlarged papillae standing out distinctly against the white surface. Later the white coat disappears, leaving a bright red surface. This is characteristic of scarlet fever. Synonym: raspberry tongue

trifid tongue

A tongue in which the anterior end is divided into three parts.

trombone tongue

The rapid involuntary movement of the tongue in and out.
References in periodicals archive ?
Part of it is that in spite of all the praise from politicians, the latter speak with forked tongues.
Councillor Alun Jenkins said: "It is a WAG that speaks with forked tongue.
For all I know, he or she could be some `green' being with a forked tongue who breathes out greenhouse gases and has eyes in the back of the head, making it impossible to see the same things the British public do.
And it is perfectly understandable for a reasonable person to conclude the Tory leader speaks with forked tongue.
They speak with forked tongue, or, in the case of Wirral, (Steve) Foulkes tongue.
In fact Elisabeth, 61, has scarcely changed from her Seventies heyday, apart from the two-foot long, pale purple, forked tongue that whips out between her lips when you least expect it.
Even his apology came with a forked tongue, offering to say sorry to 'anyone who he has offended' - the inference being of course that their delicate sensibilities might be as much to blame as his ludicrous diatribe.
But Bashir probably recognised then what we all now know, that the only way to speak to Michael Jackson was with forked tongue and, in that sense, his documentary might be more illuminating second time round.
Having stood for parliament in Denbigh, I resigned my candidature and party membership because I felt Labour was speaking with a forked tongue to the governance of Wales.
In popular westerns it was common for the Indian chief to parley with the leader of the Seventh Cavalry and then utter some Cherokee caveat along the lines of "beware, white man speak with forked tongue.
Jack speaks with forked tongue when he talks about increasing our population with new blood, then lambasts the very folk who'd settle here.
He says, "OK, you're long, thin and slippery, and there's a little forked tongue.