Palatoglossus muscle

Last revised by Francis Deng on 18 Aug 2020

The palatoglossus muscle is one of the four extrinsic muscles of the tongue. The paired muscles create ridges of mucous membrane in the lateral pharyngeal wall called the palatoglossal arches (also known as the anterior pillars of the fauces). These form the lateral boundary between the oral cavity anteriorly and the oropharynx posteriorly. It is also referred to as one of the five paired muscles of the soft palate.


  • origin: inferior surface of the palatine aponeurosis
  • insertion: posterolateral tongue
  • nerve supply: pharyngeal branch of the vagus nerve (CN X) contributing to the pharyngeal plexus (n.b. it is the only tongue muscle not supplied by the hypoglossal nerve)
  • action: elevates the posterior tongue and draws the soft palate onto tongue, thereby narrowing the diameter of the oropharyngeal isthmus

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