Stapes: A stirrup-shaped bone in the middle ear. The stapes transmits sound vibrations from the incus, another little bone in the middle ear, to the oval window adjacent to the inner ear. The stapes is the smallest bone in the body. Pronounced stay-peas. Stapes, a Late Latin word meaning stirrup, cannot have been a classical Latin term because the Romans rode without stirrups (or a saddle).
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016