Definition of Ninth cranial nerve

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Ninth cranial nerve: The ninth cranial nerve is the glossopharyngeal nerve. The 12 cranial nerves, the glossopharyngeal nerve included, emerge from or enter the skull (the cranium), as opposed to the spinal nerves which emerge from the vertebral column.

The glossopharyngeal nerve supplies the tongue, throat, and one of the salivary glands (the parotid gland). Problems with the glossopharyngeal nerve result in trouble with taste and swallowing.

"Glosso-" comes from the Greek "glossa", the tongue and "pharynx" is the Greek for throat. So the glossopharyngeal nerve is the nerve that serves the tongue and throat.

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