clitoris[klit′ə ris, kli tôr′is]
- The definition of a clitoris is a female sexual organ that is often compared to the male penis because of its sensitivity.
An example of a clitoris is a female sexual organ.
Origin of clitorisNew Latin clītoris, from Greek kleitoris; see klei- in Indo-European roots.
(plural clitorises or clitorides)
From Ancient Greek κλειτορίς (kleitoris), a diminutive of uncertain origin, probably from κλείω (kleiō, “I sheathe, shut”), in reference to its being covered by the labia minora.
The related noun form κλείς (kleis) has a second meaning of "a key, a latch or hook (to close a do)." Wooden pegs were the original keys; a connection also revealed in Latin clavis (“nail”) and claudere (“to shut”) (see close). Some medical sources give a supposed Greek verb κλειτοριάζω (kleitoriazō, “touch or titillate lasciviously, tickle”) literally "to be inclined (toward pleasure)" (compare German Kitzler (“clitoris”), literally "tickler"), related to Greek κλειτύς (kleitus), a variant of κλιτύς (klitus, “hillside”), related to κλίνω (klinō, “I slope”), from the same root as κλῖμαξ (klimaks, “ladder”). But many sources take κλειτορίς (kleitoris) literally as Ancient Greek "little hill". Compare clit.