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  1. Also called carotid artery. either of the two large arteries, one on each side of the head, that carry blood to the head and that divide into an external branch supplying the neck, face, and other external parts, and an internal branch supplying the brain, eye, and other internal parts.
  1. pertaining to a carotid artery.

Origin of carotid

1660–70; < Greek karōtídes neck arteries, equivalent to karōt(ikós) soporific (kár(os) stupor + -ōtikos -otic) + -ides -id1; so called by Galen, who found that their compression causes stupor
Related formsca·rot·id·al, adjectivein·ter·ca·rot·id, adjectivepost·ca·rot·id, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for carotid artery


  1. either one of the two principal arteries that supply blood to the head and neck
  1. of or relating to either of these arteries
Derived Formscarotidal, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from French, from Greek karōtides, from karoun to stupefy; so named by Galen, because pressure on them produced unconsciousness
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for carotid artery



1540s, "pertaining to the two great arteries of the neck," from Greek karotides "great arteries of the neck," plural of karotis, from karoun "plunge into sleep or stupor," because compression of these arteries was believed to cause unconsciousness (Galen). But if this is folk etymology, the Greek word could be from kara "head," related to kranion "skull, upper part of the head," from PIE root *ker- "horn, head" (see horn (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

carotid artery in Medicine

carotid artery

  1. An artery that originates on the right from the brachiocephalic artery and on the left from the aortic arch, runs upward into the neck and divides opposite the upper border of the thyroid cartilage, with the external and internal carotid arteries as its terminal branches; common carotid artery.
  2. An artery with its origin in the common carotid artery, with branches to the superior thyroid, lingual, facial, occipital, posterior auricular, and ascending pharyngeal arteries, and with the maxillary and superficial temporal arteries as its terminal branches; external carotid artery.
  3. An artery that arises from the common carotid artery opposite the upper border of the thyroid cartilage and terminates in the middle cranial fossa by dividing into the anterior and the middle cerebral arteries; internal carotid artery.


  1. Either of two major arteries, one on each side of the neck, that carry blood to the head.
  1. Relating to either of these arteries.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

carotid artery in Science

carotid artery

  1. Either of the two major arteries, one on each side of the neck, that carry blood to the head.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.