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 Scientists think that’s because lying in this position loosens your lower esophageal sphincter, the involuntary muscles that keep acid from rising up out of your stomach and into your throat. Eleanor Cummins, Popular Science, "You can (and should) train yourself to sleep on your back," 27 Oct. 2020 All this time, sphincter muscles in the pelvic floor that surround the urethra are keeping your bladder from leaking all over the place. Kasandra Brabaw, Health.com, "Is It Just Me, or Do You Do a Pee Dance When You Really Have to Use the Bathroom, Too?," 25 Aug. 2020 The Age of the Roadie was a time of high tire pressures and tight sphincters, filled with sexist ads, cheating and dissembly, more sexist ads, and a fixation on the ride quality of carbon fiber that could at times border on the fetishistic. Eben Weiss, Outside Online, "I Take It Back: Road Cycling Is Not Dead," 2 May 2020 The ulcers created scar tissue that narrowed the pyloric sphincter that connects to her intestines. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "A cancer fight waged privately in the shadow of Michigan's capital," 26 Nov. 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for sphincter

Time Traveler

The first known use of sphincter was in 1578

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Statistics for sphincter

Last Updated

4 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sphincter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sphincter. Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for sphincter


How to pronounce sphincter (audio)

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

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