Ask Difference

Collarbone vs. Clavicle — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 18, 2023
The collarbone and the clavicle refer to the same bone, connecting the shoulder blade and the breastbone. The term "collarbone" is informal, while "clavicle" is its medical name.
Collarbone vs. Clavicle — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Collarbone and Clavicle


Key Differences

In our human anatomy, there are specific terms to denote various body parts. The collarbone is one such term, commonly used in everyday language to refer to the horizontal bone that runs across the top of the chest. The clavicle, on the other hand, is the scientific or medical term for the same bone.
The presence of the collarbone or clavicle is vital as it connects the upper arm (humerus) to the body, specifically to the sternum (breastbone) and scapula (shoulder blade). While "collarbone" might be used in casual settings, doctors or medical professionals will likely use "clavicle" in diagnoses or medical documents.
Oftentimes in sports or physical activities, injuries to this bone are referred to as a broken collarbone. In a more clinical environment, the same injury would be described as a fractured clavicle.
When explaining anatomy to a layperson, the term collarbone is more recognizable and relatable. However, for those in the medical field, the term clavicle is standard, consistent with the terminology used for other bones and anatomical structures.
To summarize, while collarbone and clavicle indicate the same part of the human body, their usage is dictated by context: "collarbone" for casual or layman discussions and "clavicle" for medical or scientific discussions.

Comparison Chart

Terminology Type

Informal or everyday language.
Medical or scientific language.

Usage Context

Casual conversations, layman discussions.
Clinical or anatomical studies, medical documents.


Commonly recognized by the general public.
Recognized by those in the medical field.

Refers To

The horizontal bone at the top of the chest.
The bone connecting the sternum and scapula.

Associated Phrases

"Broken collarbone," "visible collarbone."
"Clavicle fracture," "clavicle anatomy."

Compare with Definitions


The prominent bone connecting the shoulder to the chest.
After the accident, he had a fractured collarbone.


The medical term for the bone connecting the sternum and scapula.
The X-ray revealed a fracture in the clavicle.


The slender bone atop the ribcage, visible beneath the skin.
Her collarbone was clearly visible in her off-shoulder dress.


A slender, S-shaped bone located in the anterior part of the thorax.
The clavicle supports the shoulder in various movements.


The bone running horizontally across the upper part of the chest.
She wore a necklace that perfectly accentuated her collarbone.


The anatomical name for the bone lying horizontally in the upper chest.
Medical students learn about the clavicle in their anatomy classes.


A significant bone providing structural support between the shoulder and the body.
He was benched due to a broken collarbone.


The bone that's an essential component of the shoulder girdle.
A displaced clavicle fracture might require surgical intervention.


See clavicle.


The bone providing a connection between the shoulder blade and the breastbone.
Injuries to the clavicle can severely limit arm mobility.


Either of the pair of bones joining the breastbone to the shoulder blades.


The clavicle, or collarbone, is a slender, S-shaped long bone approximately 6 inches (15 cm) long that serves as a strut between the shoulder blade and the sternum (breastbone). There are two clavicles, one on the left and one on the right.


The bone joining the shoulder and the breastbone.


Technical term for collarbone


The clavicle, a bone linking the scapula and sternum.


Either of two slender bones in humans that extend from the manubrium of the sternum to the acromion of the scapula. Also called collarbone.


Bone linking the scapula and sternum


One of the bones of the pectoral girdle in many vertebrates.


The bone that's often associated with shoulder injuries in sports.
The quarterback's season ended early due to a hurt collarbone.


(skeleton) The collarbone; the prominent bone at the top of the chest between the shoulder and the neck connecting the shoulder and the breastbone.


The collar bone, which is joined at one end to the scapula, or shoulder blade, and at the other to the sternum, or breastbone. In man each clavicle is shaped like the letter , and is situated just above the first rib on either side of the neck. In birds the two clavicles are united ventrally, forming the merrythought, or wishbone.


Bone linking the scapula and sternum

Common Curiosities

Why is the collarbone sometimes more visible on some people?

The visibility of the collarbone or clavicle can be due to genetics, body fat percentage, or muscle definition.

Is the clavicle part of the shoulder girdle?

Yes, the clavicle or collarbone is a crucial part of the shoulder girdle, providing structural support.

Which term should I use in a medical setting?

In a medical setting, it's preferable to use clavicle.

Why is the collarbone prone to fractures?

The collarbone or clavicle is slender and positioned in a way that makes it vulnerable to impact or falls.

Is the collarbone the only bone connecting the arm to the chest?

Yes, the collarbone or clavicle is the primary bone providing this connection.

Can you exercise with a clavicle injury?

It's essential to avoid straining a damaged clavicle or collarbone. Consult with a healthcare professional before resuming exercise.

Are the collarbone and clavicle different bones?

No, the collarbone and clavicle refer to the same bone; it's just a matter of informal vs. medical terminology.

Why might some people wish for a "defined collarbone"?

A visible collarbone or clavicle is often associated with leanness and is sometimes seen as a beauty or fitness standard.

What's the shape of the clavicle?

The clavicle or collarbone has an S-shape curvature.

Do animals have a collarbone or clavicle?

Yes, many animals have a clavicle or collarbone, though its shape and function can vary.

How long does a broken collarbone take to heal?

A fractured collarbone or clavicle typically takes 4-8 weeks to heal, depending on the severity.

Why do doctors use the term "clavicle" instead of "collarbone"?

Doctors use clavicle as it's the medical term, ensuring consistency and clarity in clinical discussions.

Is a collarbone tattoo painful?

Tattooing near the collarbone or clavicle might be more painful due to the bone's proximity to the skin.

How can you tell if your clavicle is dislocated?

A dislocated clavicle or collarbone will cause pain, swelling, and an abnormal positioning of the bone.

What's the function of the clavicle?

The clavicle or collarbone provides support and stability for the shoulder, allowing for diverse arm movements.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Next Comparison
Lyes vs. Lies

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms