Soft palate

Soft palate
Tonsils diagram.jpg
Lateral wall of nasal cavity. (Soft palate visible in lower right)
Latin palatum molle, velum palatinum
Gray's subject #242 1112
Artery lesser palatine arteries, ascending palatine artery
Nerve pharyngeal branch of vagus nerve, medial pterygoid nerve, lesser palatine nerves
MeSH Soft+Palate
Code TA A05.1.01.104
TA A05.2.01.003

The soft palate (also known as velum or muscular palate) is the soft tissue constituting the back of the roof of the mouth. The soft palate is distinguished from the hard palate at the front of the mouth in that it does not contain bone.



The soft palate is movable, consisting of muscle fibers sheathed in mucous membrane. It is responsible for closing off the nasal passages during the act of swallowing, and also for closing off the airway. During sneezing, it protects the nasal passage by diverting a portion of the excreted substance to the mouth.

The uvula hangs from the end of the soft palate. Research shows that the uvula is not actually involved in snoring processes. This has been shown through inconsistent results from uvula removal surgery. Snoring is more closely associated with fat deposition in the pharynx, enlarged tonsils of Waldeyer's Ring, or deviated septum problems. Touching the uvula or the end of the soft palate evokes a strong gag reflex in most people.


A speech sound made with the middle part of the tongue (dorsum) touching the soft palate is known as a velar consonant.

It is possible for the soft palate to retract and elevate during speech to separate the oral cavity (mouth) from the nasal cavity in order to produce the oral speech sounds. If this separation is incomplete, air escapes through the nose, causing speech to be perceived as nasal.

Muscles of soft palate

The muscle of the soft palate play important roles in swallowing and breathing.


Pathology of the soft palate includes mucosal lesions such as pemphigus vulgaris, herpangina and migratory stomatitis,[1] and muscular conditions such as the congenital cleft palate and cleft uvula.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Soft palate — Soft Soft (s[o^]ft; 115), a. [Compar. {Softer} (s[o^]ft [ e]r); superl. {Softest}.] [OE. softe, AS. s[=o]fte, properly adv. of s[=e]fte, adj.; akin to OS. s[=a]fto, adv., D. zacht, OHG. samfto, adv., semfti, adj., G. sanft, LG. sacht; of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • soft palate — n. the soft part at the rear of the roof of the mouth; velum * * * …   Universalium

  • soft palate — n the soft part at the back of the top of your mouth …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • soft palate — n. the soft part at the rear of the roof of the mouth; velum …   English World dictionary

  • soft palate — ► NOUN ▪ the fleshy, flexible part towards the back of the roof of the mouth …   English terms dictionary

  • Soft palate — The muscular part of the roof of the mouth. The soft palate is directly behind the hard palate. It lacks bone and so is soft. * * * soft palate n the membranous and muscular fold suspended from the posterior margin of the hard palate and… …   Medical dictionary

  • soft palate — soft′ pal′ate n. See under palate 1) • Etymology: 1805–15 …   From formal English to slang

  • soft palate — soft part of the roof of the mouth located in the rear near the throat …   English contemporary dictionary

  • soft palate — noun The soft tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth. Syn: velum, muscular palate …   Wiktionary

  • soft palate — /sɒft ˈpælət/ (say soft paluht) noun → palate (def. 1) …   Australian English dictionary

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