The styloglossus, the shortest and smallest of the three styloid muscles, arises from the anterior and lateral surfaces of the styloid process near its apex, and from the stylomandibular ligament.

Extrinsic muscles of the tongue. Left side. (Styloglossus XII visible at center top.)
Coronal section of tongue, showing intrinsic muscles. (Styloglossus labeled at center left.)
OriginStyloid process of temporal bone
Insertiontip and sides of tongue
Arterysublingual branch of the lingual artery.
NerveHypoglossal nerve (CN XII)
Actionsretraction and elevation of tongue
Latinmusculus styloglossus
Anatomical terms of muscle

Passing inferiorly and anteriorly between the internal and external carotid arteries, it divides upon the side of the tongue near its dorsal surface, blending with the fibers of the longitudinalis inferior in front of the hyoglossus; the other, oblique, overlaps the Hyoglossus and decussates with its fibers.


The styloglossus is innervated by the hypoglossal nerve (CN XII) like all muscles of the tongue except palatoglossus which is innervated by the pharyngeal plexus of vagus nerve (CN X).


The styloglossus draws up the sides of the tongue to create a trough for swallowing. As a pair they also aid in retracting the tongue.

Additional images


This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 1130 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  • "Anatomy diagram: 25420.000-1". Roche Lexicon - illustrated navigator. Elsevier. Archived from the original on 2014-01-01.
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