One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Medicine. Manipulation of a part of one's own body; especially reduction of a hernia or dislocation by oneself.
2Psychology and Medicine specifically = "masturbation".
3Psychology. Repeated fingering of the face, hair, or other part of the body, or of a small object, especially as a signifier of social stress or anxiety in children.
Late 19th century; earliest use found in The Medical Record. From auto- + manipulation.
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