Ar. = Arabic; Fr. = French; Heb. = Hebrew; Gk = Greek; L. = Latin; pl. = plural; pr = pronounced
This Glossary is broken into two parts. This is Part 1
Back to the Intactivism index page
(Highlighted entry-words link to a single picture.)
(Gk akro = peak, posthe = foreskin) "The visually defining, tapered, fleshy, nipple-like portion of the foreskin that advances beyond the terminus [tip] of the underlying glans penis. The acroposthion, especially in early youth, can run to impressive lengths. Distinguished from the acroposthion is the posthe." - Frederick Hodges, "Phimosis in Antiquity" One website is devoted to the acroposthion.
Picture of Acroposthion
Based on the data of ุster and Kayaba et al, Doctors Opposing Circumcision believes that the new rule-of-thumb should be that about 50% of boys will have a retractile prepuce by age 10 and about 99% will have a retractile prepuce by the completion of puberty. This information needs to be incorporated into textbooks, medical curricula, and information provided to the public.
When the normal development of the prepuce is properly understood, one can easily see that patiently awaiting the natural development of preputial retractability will usually eliminate the need for medical or surgical intervention. Better information about the normal development of the foreskin should relieve parental anxiety and reduce false diagnoses of phimosis in boys.
ุster J. Further fate of the foreskin: incidence of preputial adhesions, phimosis, and smegma among Danish schoolboys. Arch Dis Child 1968; 43: 200-220. Kayaba H, Tamura H, Kitajima S, et al. Analysis of shape and retractability of the prepuce in 603 Japanese boys. J Urol 1996; 156: 1813-1815.
Kayaba H, Tamura H, Kitajima S, et al. Analysis of shape and retractability of the prepuce in 603 Japanese boys. J Urol 1996; 156: 1813-1815.
Cross-connection, esp. of veins in the foreskin. (Gk. ana- = back, stomos = opening, pl. anastomoses)
Picture of Anastomosis
Condition of naturally having no foreskin.
Pakistani researchers found that aposthia has a genetic component, occuring more often in men whose fathers had aposthia, and who were the product of first-cousin marriages. The connection with the father suggests a component is carried on the Y-chromosome, and that with cousin-marriages that a component is carried recessively (requiring two genes to be expressed) on a number of non-sex chromosomes (autosomes).
- Aposthia: a birth defect or normal quantitative recessive human genetic trait?
Disease, especiallly inflammation of the glans. Birley et al. found that one cause was too much washing with soap. (Gk balanos = acorn)
A common excuse for circumcision. May be treated without surgery. (Gk: balanos = acorn).
Balanitis caused by Candida albicans can be treated with Clotrimazole (Canestan) Eighty-six (91%) out of 94 men were asymptomatic after seven days and 57 (98%) of 58 men were asymptomatic after three weeks' treatment. (Waugh MA Evans EGV, Nayyar KC, Fong R. Clotrimazole (Canesten) in the treatment of candidal balanitis in men. With incidental observations on diabetic candidal balanoposthitis. Br J Vener Dis. 1978; 54:184-6.)
Colonisation of the glans by Candida is more likely to be without symptoms in circumcised men than in intact men, implying that it is more common in circumcised men than commonly supposed. (Odds FC. Candida and candidosis, Balliere Tindall, London and Philadelphia, 1988.)
An infection of the glans or foreskin, characterised by a white, somewhat hardened surface. Can be treated without surgery. Assman et al. treat it with tacrolimus ointment 0.1%. Secrest et al. treated BXO successfully with testosterone. (Secrest CL, et al. "A breakthrough in the treatment of balanitis xerotica obliterans" J Urol 2008; 179(suppl):258. Abstract 740.) Wilkinson et al. had good results using preputioplasty and intra-lesional triamcinolone.
Marilyn Milos writes:
A Florida pharmacist says BXO is not uncommon and easily treatable with this:
1% Clotrimazole cream and 1% Hydrocortisone cream, mixed together and applied 3 times daily.
Improvement is noticeable within seven days and full retraction returns in 30 days.
This therapy has worked on more than a dozen men since I learned about the treatment. The only person it didn't work on was the man who wasn't diligent in the application of the creams.
(Gk balanos = acorn, xero- = dry, L. obliterans = blotting out) Also known as lichen sclerosus et atrophicus, LSA, even more fearsome-sounding.
See synechia (L. lamina = layer)
Frightening-sounding name for inflammation of the glans and foreskin. Like any other inflammation, can be treated without surgery.
Inflation of the foreskin with urine during urination. Perfectly normal in neonates unless it causes pain. Can then be treated without surgery. Babu et al found ballooning did not interfere with urination.
the glans penis, sometimes the whole penis. (UK slang, also a term of abuse) See also bell-ender.
The swollen end of the corpus spongiousum inside the pelvis.
Contraction of the bulb and corpora cavernosa, part of the reflex of ejaculation. Single contractions can be elicited by pinching the glans or stretching the ridged band when the penis is erect.
The swelling of the urethra just inside the meatus. (L. = bubble)
A condition in which the shaft of the penis is buried in the fat of the groin. May be a natural condition, or caused or aggravated by circumcision. More details on the Complications page.
Picture of buried penis
Anatomical Latin name suggested by Ken McGrath for the zone or band of smooth mucosa on the inner foreskin. (L. = smooth zone)
Anatomical Latin name suggested by Ken McGrath for the ridged band (L. = corrugated zone)
A wartlike excrescence on the skin of the genitals, perineum, or anus. Another excuse for circumcision. (Gk. kondyl- = a knob, -oma = a growth, , pl. condylomata]
The flange at the base of the glans penis. (L. = crown of the acorn) If a more down-to-earth expression is wanted, it might be called "the ridge of the glans".
Picture of corona glandis
One of the two partially hollow columns forming the sides and dorsum of the shaft of the penis, that engorge with blood in erection. (L. = cavernous body, pl. corpora cavernosa)
The spongy body running under the corpora cavernosa along the length of the penis, surrounding the urethra, that partially engorges with blood in erection. Its outermost end becomes the glans penis, its far end, deep inside the body, is a bulb. ( L. = spongy body, pl. corpora spongiosa)
A measure of the extent to which a man's foreskin covers his glans. The scale goes from CI-1 (no coverage and no loose skin when flaccid, skin tight when erect) to CI-10 (considerable overhang when soft, some overhang when erect). The "official" scale is at the newforeskin.biz website. Mainly of interest to restoring men, to measure their progress. When the two values differ, the site says circumcised men should use their value when soft and intact man should use their value when erect, but many prefer to note both. (Abbreviated CI)
The corpora cavernosa stay together for the whole of the length of the visible penis and some of the portion inside the body. They diverge in two branches, called crura, for their attachments to the pelvis. (L. crus = leg, pl. crura)
A thin layer of muscle lying directly under the skin of the penis and scrotum (it causes the scrotum to retract when cold and writhe when hot). It runs around the tip of the foreskin, forming the preputial sphincter.
The natural shedding of the cells of the outer surface of an organ. In the desquamation of the synechia of the penis, whorls of cells form in the membrane and die from the inside of the whorls out, creating hollows. Over a widely variable period of time, the hollows merge to form the preputial space, which then allows the unique mobility of the foreskin. Desquamation, in the form of de-keratinisation, also occurs from the glans after foreskin restoration. (L. losing of scales)
Farther from the body. (opp. proximal)
Of the dorsum: in the case of the penis, on the upper side when its owner is "in the Anatomical Position" - standing upright and with penis erect. (opp. ventral) [dorsal slit]
Veins running down the dorsal side of the penis. The superficial dorsal veins run under the shaft skin and ramify through the foreskin. The deep dorsal vein runs between the corpora cavernosa, well under the skin. (It becomes more prominent on erection in circumcised men.)
Picture of superficial dorsal veins
the back (dorsal) part (L. = back).
A condition in which the meatus points upward rather than forward. Does not require treatment if urinary flow is not obstructed. May also be iatrogenic, if the glans is included when the foreskin is first slit with scissors during circumcision.
A cell that generates fibres that link cells. After an injury (including circumcision), it is the fibroblasts that make the scar tissue. In the circumcised penis, fibroblasts form fibres joining the underlying shaft and the layers of shaft-skin, immobilising it. The first stage of non-surgical restoration breaks the fibres, causing inflammation but giving an initial surge of mobility.
Surprisingly hard to define, and the outer layer of the foreskin does not exist as an entity distinct from the shaft-skin of the penis. (For that reason it is not specifically marked in the picture.) In general though, the foreskin is the tapered cylindrical double layer of tissue extending from behind the corona distally to about the end of the glans and returning, and generally considered to end at the same distance along the penis as it began (ie, it is defined by circumcision...). From the corona to the ridged band its surface is mucosa; the rest is skin, and it is lined with part of the involuntary dartos facsia muscle which holds it against the glans. On erection for most men it unrolls into a single-layered cylinder, mucosa behind the corona, skin proximal to that, enclosing about half of the shaft. A non-erotic animation on this site demonstrates its unique action better than any words can. During intercourse it may move back and forth along the shaft. It is richly innervated with Meissner corpuscles, nerve-endings of the same kind as in the fingertips and lips. They are most concentrated in a ridged band running around the inside of the foreskin near the tip, beginning and ending at the frenulum, a web connecting the foreskin to the underside of the glans (head). Unfolded, the total area of the foreskin is about 15 sq in or 98 cm2. For other names for the foreskin, see below.
Eroticisation of the foreskin to the exclusion of the rest of the man. More commonly a term of abuse by circumcisers and circumfetishists for people attracted more to males with complete penises. (There is no corresponding term for those who prefer women who have not had mastectomy or people with no amputations.)
See bulla (L., fossa = channel, navicularis = boat-shaped)
See ridged band. (A different structure from the frenulum.)
The artery that supplies blood to the frenulum. (It is cutting this artery that causes haemorrhage in circumcision.)
See ridged band. (A different structure from the frenulum.)
A triangular area of mucosa under the penis whose apex is the frenulum, whose sides are the ridged band and whose base is the junction between
the inner and outer zones of the foreskin (the transition zone). A highly erogenous area, often completely ablated (destroyed) by circumcision. Described by Ken McGrath and announced at the Sixth International Symposium on Genital Integrity, Sydney, 9 December 2000.
Picture of frenular delta (artificially coloured)
See frenular delta.
Veins that traverse the ventral foreskin to drain blood from the frenulum - further reminders that the foreskin is not "just a piece of skin".
Picture of frenular vein
The membrane attaching the foreskin to the glans and shaft of the penis (at the ventral midline, just proximal to the meatus). It is richly endowed with nerves. Often only a remnant of the frenulum is left after circumcision, if it is not also removed. Many circumcised men consider it their "G-spot" - but only because their "G-area", the ridged band and frenular delta, has been removed. (L. fraenulum = little bridle pl. frenula) There are also frenula under the tongue and elsewhere.
Picture of frenulum
Strictly, having a short frenulum, but commonly, having a short ridged band, a cause of phimosis and an impressive-sounding excuse for circumcision. (L. brevis = short) According to an English newspaper article, it can be treated instead by frenuloplasty. Two adolescents in El Paso, Texas, report success in resolving frenulum breve by stretching methods.
"...two of our friends from a group of 11 had the condition. With interest we read and gathered information about it, then the guys decided to go very conservative by trying stretching instead of jumping into getting a fren[ulo]plasty. One of them had his condition more visible than the other. After gathering as much info as possible they religiously began the stretching process. By the third week one guy had resolved his condition completely. The guy with the more serious condition took him about a month and a half, but at the end they were both sucessful and very pleased they did not have to go under the knife."
Picture of frenulum breve
Sometimes used for frenulum. (L. fraenum = bridle)
The bulbous head of the penis, normally wholly or partially concealed inside the foreskin.
Contrary to many sex manuals that say the glans is highly sensitive:
"The glans, by contrast, is insensitive to light touch, heat, cold  and, as far as the authors are aware, to pin-prick. Le Gros Clark  noted that the glans penis is one of the few areas on the body that enjoys nothing beyond primitive sensory modalities."
Specialized mucosa of the penis
Specialized mucosa of the penis
(L. = acorn (of the penis), pl. glandes (pen[i]um) The same word is the root of "gland")
Picture of glans penis
A condition in which the meatus points downward rather than forward. (Gk = drawn under) Hypospadias now has its own page on this site.
Picture of Hypospadias
(Gk= dog leash) a thong worn by athletes in the classical Greek gymnasium around the acroposthion to ensure that the glans remained concealed. (Its exposure would have been offensive.) If their circumcision was not too radical (periah), Jews could use the kynodesme to conceal it.
The hairy triangular segment of the front of the scrotum that hangs from the shaft of the penis. Of no particular significance, except to underline how neglected the preputial area and its naming has been by comparison.
A thin layer of tissue, such as a membrane. For the balano-preputial lamina, see synechia (L. = layer)
Langerhans cells, along with other classes of dendritic cells, are universally found in all skin,. There is minimal variation between parts of the body in their content of Langerhans cells. They are found in all genital tissue including the glans, foreskin, shaft, scrotum, clitoris, clitoral hood, labia, and vagina. Proponents of circumcision to prevent AIDS are fond of claiming the Langerhans cells in the mucosa of the foreskin are peculiarly numerous or peculiarly liable to be infected by HIV.
(Gk = lacking skin) Condition of having an inadequate foreskin (one that leaves the glans exposed [psolos]), regarded as a defect by the ancient Greeks. A person with lipodermos was called a leipodermos. Lipodermos could be treated by herbs, traction or surgery.
"Lysozyme protects us from the ever-present danger of bacterial infection. It is a small enzyme that attacks the protective cell walls of bacteria." "Lysozyme protects many places that are rich in potential food for bacterial growth." "Our tears and mucus contain lysozyme to resist infection of our exposed surfaces."
- from Protein Data Bank Molecule of the Month, by David Goodsell
According to Fleiss et al
"The inner prepuce contains apocrine glands, which secrete cathepsin B, lysosyme, chymotrypsin, neutrophil elastase, cytokine (a non-antibody protein that generates an immune response on contact with specific antigens), and pheromones such as androsterone. Lysozyme, which is also found in tears, human milk, and other body fluids, destroys bacterial cell walls."
Of the meatus. (may be pronounced me-ay-tal)
The tiny swellings on either side of the meatus. Their conformation is very different after circumcision.
The opening of the urethra. (L. a way or passage. pl meatus or meatuses, may be pronounced as three syllables, me-a-tus)
A very large foreskin (Gk mega = large)
Picture of a normal, healthy megaprepuce
Nerve-endings associated with the perception of fine variations of touch (and pleasure), very numerous in the ridged band and frenulum.
Condition of having a very small foreskin, sometimes used as a justification for circumcision on the basis that nothing much is lost, ignoring the role of the ridged band (Gk micro = small)
Skin-like membrane lining the foreskin and covering the glans (and lining the vagina, mouth and anus). It is normally always moist.
A bacterium found in smegma, described as "avirulent" or "relatively benign". M. smegmatis has been accused (without evidence) of contributing to penile cancer. Broxmeyer found that a bacteriophage found in M. smegmatis may be effective against tuberculosis.
Another name for Vater-Pacinian corpuscles
Any of the small white points of hardened mucous membrane along the corona glandis in some intact men. In circumcised men they are usually lost among the general keratinisation. They are perfectly normal, but sometimes alarm their owner when he first discovers them. In some men they are prominent and exquisitely sensitive, to pain or pleasure depending on context. Their existence has been the basis of a circumstition, and there are sites exploiting the unwary, portraying them as pathological, and offering (expensive/lucrative) treatments for their removal. (L= little nipple of the corona, pl. papillae coronis Also known as Pearly Penile Papules or PPP)
Picture of papilla coronis
(In cats and rodents they are much more pointed, shocking the females into ovulation, and related to the much sharper ones on cats' tongues.)
Condition where the ridged band is trapped behind the corona. May be relieved without surgery. (Gk para = other, faulty; phimosis = muzzling)
Male sexual organ. But you knew that.
Of the penis.
Adj. of the perineum
The region of the body between the genitals and the anus, also known as the "taint". The raphe runs through it. It is erogenous in some people. (plural: perinea)
Experiencing phimosis, muzzled, covered by a non-retracting foreskin.
Inability to retract the foreskin.
Blalock et al. found circumcision to cause phimosis in 2.9% of babies. Phimosis can be treated without surgery if it is painful or if the urinary flow is obstructed. European doctors limit the term to an inability to retract caused by scarring, such as results from Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans. Beaugé suggests a non-surgical method of treatment. Dunn suggests another. Berdeu et al found non-surgical treatment to be more cost-effective than surgery. Lang found medical treatment to be effective in 53 out of 56 cases. Kaye et al. describe how skin-grafting is successful where phimosis is combined with frenulum breve.
(Gk, = muzzling, but Frederick Hodges, in his essay "Phimosis in Antiquity", shows that the Greeks did not define it as modern medicine does, to include simple non-rectractability or "excessive" foreskin, but on the contrary recognised a condition of lipodermus - insufficient foreskin.)
Gk, = forekskin, but strictly, "the portion of the foreskin that merely enfolds the glans penis, beginning at the coronal sulcus" and ending where the acroposthion begins. (Frederick Hodges, "Phimosis in Antiquity")
Inflammation of the foreskin. Like any other inflammation, can be treated without surgery.
Competition to see who can put the most M&Ms in his foreskin (NSFW)
pron. /'pri:pju:s/ "preepyoose" or /'prep@s/ "preppuss"
See foreskin. The term "prepuce" is used more often than "foreskin" for the female equivalent, in spite of the derivation ( from L. prae, in front, and putium, penis)/
The cavity formed by the foreskin and the sulcus of the glans. Commonly described by circumcisionists as if it were a cesspit, it can be opened as easily as any other sack, and usually vanishes completely when the foreskin is fully retracted.
The space between the foreskin and the glans.
The "drawstring" of the foreskin, formed of the dartos muscle.
Narrowing of the foreskin. Replacing "phimosis" to describe inability to retract the foreskin in adulthood. May be treated (if any treatment is needed) without surgery. (L. praeputium = foreskin, Gk stenosis = narrowing)
Nearer to the body. (opp. distal)
(Gk) Having the glans exposed, whether because the foreskin is short, retracted or missing. Considered obscene by the Greeks.
The "seam" up the underside of the penis (actually running all the way from the anus to the urinary meatus), where the urethra closed up before birth.
Picture of raphe
A zone of corrugated tissue running from the frenulum, around the inside of the foreskin close to the preputial sphincter (and therefore is largely removed by even minimal circumcision) and back to the frenulum. It lies between the outer skin and the smooth band.It is richly endowed with nerves. Meissners corpuscles are concentrated in the peaks of the ridges. It was first described by Taylor as recently as 1996.
Picture of Ridged band
The part of the penis lying inside the pelvis, comprising about half its total length, by which it is attached to the body. It includes the two crura and the bulb.
See smegma. A misspelling based on the misapprehension that the word is Yiddish or of Germanic origin.
The external body of the penis, comprising skin, dartos fascia, corpus spongiosum and corpora carvernosa and urethra, but not including the glans or foreskin.
A natural secretion of skin cells and oils that collects under the foreskin in both males and females. If allowed to grow stale, it may have a pungent aroma (commonly compared to cheese [males] or fish [females]), and has lubricant, pheromonal (sexual attractant) and perhaps bacteriostatic (bacteria-killing) functions. The quantity varies, but it is comparable to earwax. (In one survey, three out of 18 self-selected intact men never saw smegma; one saw it after a week unwashed; six after two days; eight after one day; and one after less than a day. Three out of seven circumcised men reported seeing smegma.) (Gk. = soap)
Picture of smegma
The area of the foreskin between the ridged band and the sulcus. Although it is thrown into wrinkles in the flaccid penis, as shown, it smooths out before the ridged band on erection.
Picture of smooth band
The tissue of the surface of the smooth band (but the terms smooth mucosa and smooth band are often used interchangably).
Involuntary loss of semen, including during sleep (nocturnal emissions, "wet dreams"), in the 19th and early 20th centuries considered a harmful medical condition. Circumcision was performed to prevent it (though the victim might never know that that was the reason).
The groove in the penile shaft behind the glans penis.
Picture of sulcus
The membrane attaching the inner (mucosal) surface of the neonatal foreskin to the glans penis. It separates naturally (helped by masturbation) before adolescence. Also known as the balanopreputial membrane and the balano-preputial lamina. Confusingly, "synechia" is also used to refer to skin-bridges.
A cylindrical sheath of flexible but inelastic tissue, under the shaft-skin and enclosing the corpora cavernosa and spongiosum, which gives the erect penis its rigidity. It can be damaged by bending it when erect, literally breaking the penis. (L. = white tunic)
Glands supposed to exist in the corona and secrete smegma. They were found in orang-outangs; they have not been confirmed in humans.
The tube running the length of the penis carrying urine and semen. (cf. the tubes from the kidneys to the bladder, the ureters)
Of the belly: in the case of the penis, on the underside when its owner is "in the Anatomical Position" - standing upright and with penis erect. Medical textbooks are silent about the disposition of the foreskin in the Anatomical Position. (opp. dorsal)
Sensory nerve-endings. They comprise concentric membranes of connective tissue, like the layers of an onion, with the gaps between filled by a slimy gel. Movements or vibrations deform the layers, sending a nerve signal to the brain. These corpuscles are found in the clitoris, the male foreskin, and the fingertips, They are found in other mammals, and are particularly densely packed at the tip of an elephant's trunk.
Yet another excuse for circumcision. Zoon's balanitis is "an uncommon, benign, idiopathic inflammatory condition affecting uncircumcised males." It may be treated conservatively, according to Albertini JG, Holck DE, Farley MF in "Zoon's balanitis treated with Erbium:YAG laser ablation." Lasers Surg Med 2002;30(2):123-6.
SKINONYMS - SYNONYMS FOR "FORESKIN" etc
(told by the Dixie Chicks to English TV host Graham Norton)
glans penis (UK)
Welsh, blaen = first/foremost, croen -> groen = skin
(Spanish, = flower-bud) Also short for cascabillo, acorn-cup (and glans=acorn)
NZ slang of the 1960s. opp: mushroom
UK Opp.: Roundhead
(Spanish: animal hide or pelt) used in Southern Texas (and presumably Mexico) often derogatory
(Spanish = convertible) colloquial for penis, referring to the retractability of the foreskin
Danish and Norwegian, for = front, hud = skin
Swedish, för = front, hud = skin
"tighter than Uncle Dick's hatband" used in Southern Texas
NZ Mäori, kiri = skin, mata = front (cf tehe = with exposed glans and ure haea = circum/superincised, ure = penis, haea = lacerated). NB kiri ure (penis skin) = (mod.) condom
Swahili (the word also means "skin", "leather" "football" and "game of football"!)
(NZ slang) Penis whose foreskin is short enough to expose some of the glans when flaccid.
Picture of peeper
intact boy or man, a term of abuse (Visayan, Philippines)
from L. prae, in front, and putium, penis
used by Jason Ellis (NSFW)
coined by HY, May 1997, as a friendlier, less clinical alternative. Used in the film A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011)
intact boy or man, a term of abuse (Tagalog, Philippines)
Apparently from the nautical euphemism tackle (=genitals). Used in the film East is East, negatively and apparently ad hoc, but with much to commend it.
German, vor = fore / in front, Haut = skin
Dutch, voor = fore/in front, huid = skin
South Africa Opp.: cherry.
Used by occifer spectoid on MDT, May 2010
the late Glenn M. J. Epps
Rudy the Alphacub
Mario I. Calderó (o-acute)
Geoffrey T. Falk
Dr Maarire Goodall
Mr Martin B L Novoa
comments and corrections
Back to Intactivism
This Glossary has now been divided in two. Lists concerning circumcision and Intactivism are in Part 2.
If you have reached here after clicking on a term connected with circumcision, please click here and scroll down to the word you were interested in. It would be a kindness to email me first, letting me know the page you came from and the word you were looking at, and I will correct the link.