• synonyms

soft palate

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
  1. See under palate(def 1).

Origin of soft palate

First recorded in 1805–15


  1. Anatomy. the roof of the mouth, consisting of an anterior bony portion (hard palate) and a posterior muscular portion (soft palate) that separate the oral cavity from the nasal cavity.
  2. the sense of taste: a dinner to delight the palate.
  3. intellectual or aesthetic taste; mental appreciation.

Origin of palate

1350–1400; Middle English palat < Latin palātum roof of the mouth
Related formspal·ate·less, adjectivepal·ate·like, adjective
Can be confusedpalate palette pallet
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for soft palate

Historical Examples

  • The soft-palate is a structure which hangs from the posterior edge of the hard-palate.

    The Child-Voice in Singing

    Francis E. Howard

  • In volume, by lowering the larynx, elevating the soft-palate and hollowing the tongue.

  • Speech is formed by three agents: the lips, the tongue and the soft-palate.

British Dictionary definitions for soft palate


  1. the roof of the mouth, separating the oral and nasal cavitiesSee hard palate, soft palate Related adjective: palatine
  2. the sense of tasteshe had no palate for the wine
  3. relish or enjoyment
  4. botany (in some two-lipped corollas) the projecting part of the lower lip that closes the opening of the corolla

Word Origin

C14: from Latin palātum, perhaps of Etruscan origin


Avoid confusion with palette, pallet 1

soft palate

  1. the posterior fleshy portion of the roof of the mouth. It forms a movable muscular flap that seals off the nasopharynx during swallowing and speech
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 soft palate



late 14c., "roof of the mouth," from Old French palat and directly from Latin palatum "roof of the mouth," perhaps of Etruscan origin [Klein]. Popularly considered the seat of taste, hence transferred meaning "sense of taste" (late 14c.), which also was in classical Latin. Related: Palatal; palatalize.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

soft palate in Medicine


  1. The bony and muscular partition between the oral and nasal cavities; the roof of the mouth.

soft palate

  1. The movable fold, consisting of muscular fibers enclosed in mucous membrane, that is suspended from the rear of the hard palate and closes off the nasal cavity from the oral cavity during swallowing or sucking.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

soft palate in Science


  1. The roof of the mouth in vertebrate animals, separating the mouth from the passages of the nose.♦ The bony part of the palate is called the hard palate. ♦ A soft, flexible, rear portion of the palate, called the soft palate, is present in mammals only and serves to close off the mouth from the nose during swallowing.

soft palate

  1. See under palate.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

soft palate in Culture



The roof of the mouth. The palate separates the mouth from the nasal cavity.


It is sometimes said that a person has a “cultivated palate” if he or she has a discerning taste for food.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.