sphinc·​ter | \ ˈsfiŋ(k)-tər How to pronounce sphincter (audio) \

Definition of sphincter

: an annular muscle surrounding and able to contract or close a bodily opening

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Other Words from sphincter

sphincteric \ sfiŋ(k)-​ˈter-​ik How to pronounce sphincteric (audio) \ adjective

Examples of sphincter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Acid reflux means that the sphincter at the bottom of the esophagus is weak enough to allow stomach contents to reverse course, causing symptoms like heartburn, according to the Mayo Clinic. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Is Sparkling Water Bad for You in Some Way?," 5 Apr. 2019 Between the stomach and the esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach) is a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter, according to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Is Late-Night Snacking Really So Wrong?," 23 Aug. 2019 Gastric distension caused by sparkling water’s CO2 bubbles can decrease the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter, which can then promote acid reflux, Dr. Chowdhry says. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Is Sparkling Water Bad for You in Some Way?," 5 Apr. 2019 Unlike rectal cancer, which forms in the rectum or colon, anal cancer forms on the anal canal, near the sphincter muscles. Christina Oehler, Health.com, "Marcia Cross Reveals New Details of Her Anal Cancer Diagnosis," 5 June 2019 Sitz baths can help to relax the anal sphincter, according to the Cleveland Clinic, potentially reducing pain and discomfort. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What the Hell Is a Sitz Bath? (And Why Would You Take One?)," 14 Mar. 2019 Acid reflux can happen more frequently during pregnancy because the hormone progesterone causes your esophageal sphincter (which is supposed to keep acid and food in your stomach) to relax, the Mayo Clinic explains. Korin Miller, SELF, "6 Gastrointestinal Issues That Can Affect You During Pregnancy," 14 Dec. 2018 With vaginal deliveries, there is a real possibility not only of vaginal tearing, but pelvic floor problems that can manifest as urinary incontinence, anal sphincter injury and fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. Kavin Senapathy, SELF, "Giving Birth Made Me Question the Informed Consent Process During Childbirth," 14 May 2018 From there, the hot dog travels to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), an involuntary bundle of muscles at the low end of the esophagus that prevents acid from getting into the stomach. Amy Kraft, CBS News, "How competitive eaters do it – and what it does to them," 4 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sphincter.' 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 sphincter

1578, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sphincter

Late Latin, from Greek sphinktēr, literally, band, from sphingein to bind tight

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sphincter ani



Statistics for sphincter

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for sphincter

The first known use of sphincter was in 1578

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English Language Learners Definition of sphincter

medical : a ring-shaped muscle that surrounds a body opening and that can tighten to close the opening


sphinc·​ter | \ ˈsfiŋ(k)-tər How to pronounce sphincter (audio) \

Medical Definition of sphincter

: an annular muscle surrounding and able to contract or close a bodily opening — see anal sphincter, cardiac sphincter, precapillary sphincter, pyloric sphincter

Other Words from sphincter

sphincteral \ -​t(ə-​)rəl How to pronounce sphincteral (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on sphincter

Britannica English: Translation of sphincter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sphincter

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a topic to which one constantly reverts

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