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 Zaw’s attorney, Marc Harding, said a doctor’s referral documents showed Zaw was seeking a circumcision. USA TODAY, "Feral pig invasion, giant Christmas pyramid, rampaging fox attacks humans: News from around our 50 states," 20 Nov. 2019 Women who took their daughters for circumcision were not taking them there to destroy them. Bukola Adebayo, CNN, "A Kenyan doctor is seeking to legalize female genital mutilation," 25 Oct. 2019 In one of the pictures, Ka-Fossie poses in a dress resembling the white blanket men wear during the Xhosa circumcision ceremony. Wired, "The Trans Women Reclaiming South Africa's Townships," 3 Oct. 2019 Genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision or cutting, has been condemned by the United Nations. Ed White, The Seattle Times, "US drops appeal dismissing female genital mutilation charges," 12 Apr. 2019 There's no furious denunciation of her host when the woman's own daughter starts bleeding profusely following a female circumcision. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Sweetness in the Belly': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 6 Sep. 2019 Muslim and Jewish groups in Germany and Slovenia have complained of government officials interfering in their religious traditions by trying to criminalize circumcision for nonmedical reasons. Washington Post, "Government restrictions on religion increasing worldwide," 15 July 2019 Still, many parents decide against circumcision for their sons. Rita Giordano,, "Art exhibit in Northern Liberties stirs up debate over circumcising infants," 4 June 2019 Some compared the ear piercing to male circumcision, saying that if one was OK, so was the other. Leah Asmelash And Doug Criss, CNN, "Hilary Duff mommy-shamed after posting Instagram picture of baby's pierced ears," 4 July 2019

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.

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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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Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Circumcision.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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

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a period of high artistic development

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