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Definition of TONGUE
a: a fleshy movable muscular process of the floor of the mouths of most vertebrates that bears sensory end organs and small glands and functions especially in taking and swallowing food and in humans as a speech organ
b: a part of various invertebrate animals that is analogous to the tongue
: the flesh of a tongue (as of the ox or sheep) used as food
river 246 miles (396 kilometers) N Wyoming & S Montana flowing N into Yellowstone River
Medical Definition of TONGUE
: a process of the floor of the mouth that is attached basally to the hyoid bone, that consists essentially of a mass of extrinsic muscle attaching its base to other parts, intrinsic muscle by which parts of the structure move in relation to each other, and an epithelial covering rich in sensory end organs and small glands, and that functions especially in taking and swallowing food and as a speech organ
Illustration of TONGUE
Muscular organ on the floor of the mouth. It is important in motions of eating, drinking, and swallowing, and its complex movements shape the sounds of speech. Its top surface consists of thousands of raised projections (papillae). The receptors of taste (taste buds) are embedded in the papillae and are sensitive to four basic flavours: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. More specific flavours are influenced by the sense of smell. The tongue's appearance (e.g., coated or red) can give clues to disease elsewhere. Disorders of the tongue include cancer (often caused by smokeless tobacco), leukoplakia (white patches), fungal infection, and congenital disorders. Different animals use the tongue to serve varied functions; for example, frogs have an elongated tongue adapted to capturing prey, the snake's tongue collects and transfers odours to a specialized sensory structure to help locate prey, and cats use their tongues for grooming and cleaning.