cir·​cum·​ci·​sion | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈsi-zhən How to pronounce circumcision (audio) , ˈsər-kəm-ˌsi- \

Definition of circumcision

1a : the act of circumcising especially : the cutting off of the foreskin of males that is practiced as a religious rite by Jews and Muslims and by others as a social custom or for potential health benefits (such as improved hygiene)
c : the condition of being circumcised
2 capitalized : January 1 observed as a festival in some churches in commemoration of the circumcision of Jesus

Examples of circumcision in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There was a boy born among the Jews who have remained in Dnipro, and no one is in the city to perform the circumcision. Washington Post, 15 Apr. 2022 When a nurse pages a doctor for a circumcision, that boy is likely heading home in the next few hours. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2022 Indeed, the terms milah (circumcision) and niddah have similar meanings. Rabbi Avi Weiss,, 28 Mar. 2022 While Loren watched the circumcision with tears running down her face, Alexei helps the mohel — a religious circumciser, who leads the event — complete the procedure. Kelly Wynne,, 25 Feb. 2022 In Africa, one of the continents hardest hit by AIDS, experts noted interruptions in programs that check pregnant women for HIV and that provide male circumcision to reduce their risk of catching the virus. Mike Stobbe, Star Tribune, 4 June 2021 The foreskin can be a source of multiple medical problems in older men, thus justifying later-in-life circumcision. The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2021 The photographer assigned to shoot a bris, a ritual circumcision, hadn’t shown up, and the baby’s grandmother was panicking. New York Times, 31 Dec. 2021 More recently, Rabbi Tendler backed New York City health officials in trying to ban a circumcision procedure in which the mohel — a Jew trained in the rite — sucks blood from an infant’s wound with the lips. New York Times, 9 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'circumcision.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of circumcision

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of circumcision was in the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Circumcision.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for circumcision


cir·​cum·​ci·​sion | \ ˌsər-kəm-ˈsizh-ən How to pronounce circumcision (audio) \

Medical Definition of circumcision

1 : the act of circumcising:
a : the cutting off of the foreskin of males that is practiced as a religious rite by Jews and Muslims and by others as a social custom or for potential health benefits (as improved hygiene)
2 : the condition of being circumcised

More from Merriam-Webster on circumcision

Nglish: Translation of circumcision for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of circumcision for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about circumcision


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