Achilles Tendon

Other Known AliasesCalcaneal tendon

DefinitionThe tendon attaching the gastrocnemius, plantaris, and soleus muscle to the calcaneus.


Clinical Significance The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the body and rupturing this structure takes a tremendous amount of force.  Powerful plantarflexion while jumping is the most common mechanism and most commonly occurs in inflammed or chronically stressed tendons.

History – I am a bit of a mythology geek and I love this eponym.  The Achilles tendon was named after the famous Greek warrior, Achilles, who was the hero of the Trojan War for killing Prince Hector, son of King Priam of Troy.  This is a major part of Homer’s Illiad. 

I digress…..

The reason for this eponym is that Achilles’ mother is Thetis, an immortal sea nymph, who could not bear to see her child injured or killed.  To remedy this, she dipped him in the River Styx to make him invulnerable.  Since he was mortal, she couldn’t just drop him in, so she held him by the heel.  The spot on his heel that was held by Thetis was unprotected and ultimately would be his “Achilles Heel” (get it) when an arrow shot by Paris, brother of Hector, pierced this spot and killed him.

Image result for achilles river styxThetis dipping Achilles in the River Styx by Thomas Banks 02.jpg


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s