Toe | Definition, Etymology, Functions & Anatomy


The toe refers to the part of our foot. They are the digits of the foot. In Latin, the anatomical names for toes are digitus primus pedis or Hallux. There are five toes present on every foot of the human.


It is any five digits at the end of the human foot. In Urdu, we describe it as پیرکی انگلیاں. We pronounce it as tow. In Hindi, we describe it as पैर की अंगुली.


  • Tip
  • Lower end
  • Digit
  • Foot digit
  • Claw
  • Paw
  • Appendage
  • Extremity


  • Toeless
  • Improper


This word originates from Old English ta of Germanic origin related to Dutch teen and German Zeh, Zehe.


Toes are considered an essential part of the movement of the foot and the body. Its fundamental function is to hold the weight of the body. They assist us in our daily basis activities such as walking. Also, it provides stability, balance, and position to our body.

Anatomy of Toe

There are five toes on each foot which are:

First Toe: It is the Big or great and the innermost toe.

Second Toe: It is the long toe.

Third Toe: It is the middle toe.

Four Toe: It is the ring toe.

Fifth Toe: It is the little or pinky or baby and the outermost toe.


Every toe comprises of 3 phalanx bones but the big toe has 2 bones which are:

  • Proximal Phalanx
  • Middle Phalanx
  • Distal Phalanx

Proximal Phalanx:

It is the bone in every toe that is near to the metatarsal bone.

Middle Phalanx:

They are the smaller extended bones that make up the toes of the feet.

Distal Phalanx:

It is the bone located at the end of every toe.


Usually, the motion of the toes is bending and expansion through muscular tendons. These tendons connect to the toes on the frontal and higher surfaces of the phalanx bones. The movement of the toes is governed by the action of the flexor digitorum brevis and extensor digitorum brevis muscles.

These attach to the sides of the bones and then it is not possible to move single toes separately. The muscles among the toes on their top and under also assist to abduct and adduct the toes. The hallux and little toe have some distinctive muscles which are:

  • Hallux is flexed by the flexor hallucis longus muscle which is in the deep part of the lower leg through the flexor hallucis longus tendon. Further, flexion control is given by the flexor hallucis brevis. It is increased by the abductor hallucis muscle and the adductor hallucis muscle.
  • Little toe has a separate set of control muscles and tendon attachments which are flexor and abductor digit minimi. Many other muscles of the foot contribute to fine motor control of the foot. The connective tendons among the small toes are responsible for the failure to activate individual toes.


All of the toes in the foot have 3 joints excluding the large toes which include:

  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint
  • Proximal Interphalangeal Joint
  • Distal Phalangeal Joint

Blood Supply:

The toes get blood from the digital branches of the plantar metatarsal arteries and effuse blood into the dorsal venous arch of the foot.


There are many disorders of the toes which some of these are:

  • Bunions
  • Ingrown toenail
  • Callus
  • Gout
  • Blisters
  • Hammertoes
  • Bruise
  • Fracture
  • Plantar wart
  • Mallet’s toes
  • Diabetic neuropathy


  • I feel pain in my toes.
  • His toes were cut with the sharp stone.
  • Ahmad stepped on her toes.
  • Saba felt some sand on her toes.
  • Sara felt some swelling in her toes.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Which one of the toes is essential for balance?

The big toe is essential for keeping balance.

Mention the number of total toes in our feet.

There are a total of ten toes on our feet.

Name of the muscles connected to the toes?

Extensor digitorum brevis muscles are attached to the toes.

Mention the number of bones in the toes.

There are a total of 14 bones in the toes.

Which of the nerves supplies toes?

The medial plantar nerve supplies toes.

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