Anatomy word of the month: the testis

October 1, 2009 —

The testis is the male generative organ, producing sperm cells and the male sex hormone, testosterone. Testis is a Latin word for “witness”, as in witnessing to one’s manhood. Did you know that the words testify, testimonial and testament share a common meaning with testis? So, when you testify you are witnessing to the truth. When you give a testimonial you are witnessing to the fine flavor or durability of some product and when you sign your last will and testament you are witnessing to your last wishes.

Orchis is the Greek name for the testis. Hence, medical terms contain the stem such as orchiditis (inflammation) and orchidectomy (removal) of the testis. Anatomical terms use the Latin form as in testicular artery and vein.


Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?