Foot - Encyclopedia

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FOOT, the lower part of the leg, in vertebrate animals consisting of tarsus, metatarsus and phalanges, on which the body rests when in an upright position, standing or moving (see Anatomy: Superficial and Artistic; and Skeleton: Appendicular). The word is also applied to such parts of invertebrate animals as serve as a foot, either for movement or attachment to a surface. "Foot" is a word common in various forms to Indo-European languages, Dutch, voet, Ger. Fuss, Dan. fod, &c. The Aryan root is pod-, which appears in Sans. pud, Gr. irois, iroMs, and Lat. pes, pedis. From the resemblance to the foot, in regard to its position, as the base of anything, or as the lowest member of the body, or in regard to its function of movement, the word is applied to the lowest part of a hill or mountain, the plate,of a sewing-machine which holds the material in position, to the part of an organ pipe below the mouth, and the like. In printing the bottom of a type is divided by a groove into two portions known as "feet." Probably referring to the beating of the rhythm with the foot in dancing, the Gr. 'was and Lat. pes were applied in prosody to a grouping of syllables, one of which is stressed, forming the division of a verse. "Foot," i.e. foot-soldier, was formerly, with an ordinal number prefixed, the name of the infantry regiments of the British army. It is now superseded by territorial designations, but it still is used in the four regiments of the infantry of the Household, the Foot Guards. As a lineal measure of length the "foot" is of great antiquity, estimated originally by the length of a man's foot (see Weights And Measures). For the ceremonial washing of feet, see Maundy Thursday.

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