biceps (bĪˈsĕps) [key], any muscle having two heads, or fixed ends of attachment, notably the biceps brachii at the front of the upper arm and the biceps femoris in the thigh. Originating in the shoulder area, the heads of the biceps merge partway down the arm to form a rounded mass of tissue linked by a tendon to the radius, the smaller of the two forearm bones. When the biceps contracts, the tendon is pulled toward the heads, thus bending the arm at the elbow. For this reason the biceps is called a flexor. It works in coordination with the triceps brachii, an extensor. The biceps also controls rotation of the forearm to a palm-up position, as in turning a doorknob. The size and solidity of the contracted biceps are a traditional measure of physical strength.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.