Carpal bones (mnemonic)

Last revised by Adam Eid Ramsey, MD on 12 Jan 2021

Mnemonics of the carpal bones are numerous and useful for memorizing the order and location of the bones.

Some mnemonics name the carpal bones in a circle, starting with the proximal row from the scaphoid towards the pinky (small finger) and then the distal row starting from the hamate towards the thumb: 

  • So Long To Pinky, Here Comes The Thumb
  • Straight Line To Pinky, Here Comes The Thumb

Other mnemonics describe the position of the carpal bones from the radial to the ulnar side, for both rows, proximal then distal:

  • Sam Likes To Push, The Toy Car Hard
  • Sally Left The Party, To Take Cathy Home
  • Some Lovers Try Positions, That They Cannot Handle
  • She Likes To Play, Try To Catch Her


Bones are named related to their shape, which can be additionally useful for identification:

  • scaphoid: boat-shaped on frontal view
  • lunate: moon/crescent-shaped on lateral view
  • triquetrum: triangular
  • pisiform: pea-shaped
  • hamate: with a hook
  • capitate: head-shaped, large and central
  • trapezoid and trapezium: table-shaped (four-sided)

Additional mnemonics help distinguish the carpal bones that start with T:

  • trapezium is under the thumb (articulating with the first metacarpal)
  • trapezoid is inside (surrounded by four other bones)

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