Slideshows Images Quizzes
font size

Medical Definition of Cranial nerves

Cranial nerves: The nerves of the brain, which emerge from or enter the skull (the cranium), as opposed to the spinal nerves, which emerge from the vertebral column. There are 12 cranial nerves, each of which is accorded a Roman numeral and a name:

  • Cranial nerve I: the olfactory nerve
  • Cranial nerve II: the optic nerve
  • Cranial nerve III: the oculomotor nerve
  • Cranial nerve IV: the trochlear nerve
  • Cranial nerve V: the trigeminal nerve
  • Cranial nerve VI: the abducent nerve
  • Cranial nerve VII: the facial nerve
  • Cranial nerve VIII: the vestibulocochlear nerve
  • Cranial nerve IX: the glossopharyngeal nerve
  • Cranial nerve X: the vagus nerve
  • Cranial nerve XI: the accessory nerve
  • Cranial nerve XII: the hypoglossal nerve

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016

Drug Medical Dictionary of Terms by Letter

Top RxList Drug News

WebMD Daily

Get breaking medical news.

Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors