[ sfingk-ter ]
/ ˈsfɪŋk tər /
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noun Anatomy.

a circular band of voluntary or involuntary muscle that encircles an orifice of the body or one of its hollow organs.



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Origin of sphincter

1570–80; <Late Latin <Greek sphinktḗr, equivalent to sphing-, base of sphíngein to hold tight + -tēr suffix denoting agent


sphinc·ter·al, sphinc·te·ri·al [sfingk-teer-ee-uhl], /sfɪŋkˈtɪər i əl/, sphinc·ter·ic [sfingk-ter-ik], /sfɪŋkˈtɛr ɪk/, sphinc·ter·ate [sfingk-ter-it, -tuh-reyt], /ˈsfɪŋk tər ɪt, -təˌreɪt/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for sphincter

British Dictionary definitions for sphincter

/ (ˈsfɪŋktə) /


anatomy a ring of muscle surrounding the opening of a hollow organ or body and contracting to close it

Derived forms of sphincter

sphincteral, adjective

Word Origin for sphincter

C16: from Late Latin, from Greek sphinkter, from sphingein to grip tightly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for sphincter

[ sfĭngktər ]


A ringlike muscle that normally maintains constriction of a body passage or orifice and that relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning.anatomical sphincter

Other words from sphincter

sphincter•al null adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for sphincter

[ sfĭngktər ]

A ring-shaped muscle that encircles an opening or passage in the body. The opening and closing of the anus is controlled by contraction and relaxation of a sphincter, as is the opening that leads to the stomach from the esophagus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.