Adam's apple

noun
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of Adam's apple

: the projection in the front of the neck formed by the largest cartilage of the larynx

Origin and Etymology of adam's apple

after 1adam
Note: There are analogous names in other European languages, e.g., French pomme d'Adam, morceau d'Adam, Italian pomo d'Adamo, German Adamsapfel, etc. Medieval authors, as Jacques de Vitry, applied pomum Adam(i), Adami pomum, etc., to various kinds of fruits, as the pomegranate, perhaps originally from their supposed superior quality (i.e., "fruits of Paradise"). According to Elmar Seebold (Kluge, Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprachen, 24. Auflage, 2002), medieval Arab medical authors called the laryngeal protuberance the "pomegranate"—pomum granatum in Latin translation—and the synonymous pomum Adami may have been copied in European vernaculars as a name for the laryngeal protuberance (a case of sense borrowing, and then sense transfer to a synonym). Caspar Bauhin, in his anatomical work De corporis humani fabrica libri quattuor (Basel, 1590), notes that both "pomegranate" and "Adam's apple" are vernacular words for the larynx ("…partem protuberantem, que malum granatum et pomum Adami barbaris dicitur constituit."). Other anatomical authors also have pomum Adami as the Latinization of a vernacular name (André de Laurens, Historia anatomica [Lyons, 1605]: "Huius suprema pars brónkhos, quibusdam vulgo morsus & pomum Adami appellatur"; Gabriele Falloppio, "Institutiones Anatomicae," in Omnia, quae adhuc extant opera [Venice, 1584]: "…quam prominentiam aliqui vulgares appellant, Adami pomum"). This expression has not surprisingly been subject to folk explanations, e.g., John Purcell, in A Treatise of Vapours, or Hysterick Fits (2nd ed., London, 1707), says "…an eminence or protuberance plain to be felt and seen in the neck, which several anatomists call Pomum Adami or, the Apple of Adam, from a vulgar superstitious notion that when Adam eat the forbidden Apple it stuck in his Throat, and that God to perpetuate the memory of this his offence plac'd the like protuberance in the throats of all his posterity; which is not quite so apparent in Women, because, say they, the Crime of Eve was less…." The notion, which according to Seebold goes back to the 19th century, that pomum Adami is a translation of a putative Medieval Hebrew tappūăḥ ha'ādhām (alleged to mean "protuberance on a man," supposedly reinterpreted as "Adam's apple") is specious. No such expression with this meaning has been located in pre-Modern Hebrew.


ADAM'S APPLE Defined for English Language Learners

Adam's apple

noun

Definition of Adam's apple for English Language Learners

  • : the lump that sticks out in the front of a person's neck, that is usually larger in men than in women, and that moves when a person talks or swallows


ADAM'S APPLE Defined for Kids

Adam's apple

noun Ad·am's apple \ ˈa-dəmz- \

Definition of Adam's apple for Students

: the lump formed in the front of a person's neck by cartilage in the throat

Medical Dictionary

Adam's apple

noun Ad·am's ap·ple \ ˌad-əm-ˈzap-əl \

medical Definition of Adam's apple

: the projection in the front of the neck that is formed by the thyroid cartilage and is particularly prominent in males


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