Definition of circumcise in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Cut off the foreskin of (a young boy or man, especially a baby) as a religious rite, especially in Judaism and Islam, or as a medical treatment.

    • ‘At first my husband and I were in agreement that we wouldn't circumcise him.’
    • ‘A father who forcibly circumcises his son will not win his son's gratitude, affection, trust, or love.’
    • ‘In some parts of the world Sunni Muslims also circumcise for religious reasons.’
    • ‘His grandmother was upset that his parents did not want to circumcise him.’
    • ‘As Muslims, all Turkmen males are circumcised, usually between the ages of three and seven.’
    • ‘My wife Devorah and I were resolute about our decision not to circumcise our son.’
    • ‘He was circumcised, as required by the law, and he was a member of the tribe of Benjamin.’
    • ‘As a mother, over time I have come to regret that my son was circumcised.’
    • ‘Some parents fear that their son will be teased if he is not circumcised.’
    • ‘Some types of sexually transmitted infections are more common in uncircumcised than circumcised men.’
    • ‘The author of Jubilees attacks those who failed to circumcise their sons, clearly implying that some did not.’
    • ‘Shemot Rabbah tells us that the Jews ceased circumcising their sons to blend in better with their Egyptian hosts.’
    • ‘A court ruled that an adult male could sue the doctor who circumcised him even though the parents had consented.’
    • ‘God had directed Abraham to circumcise newborn males specifically on the eighth day.’
    • ‘In Europe at that time, only Jewish children were circumcised.’
    • ‘My husband and I are both Jewish, not practicing in the traditional sense, and we are debating whether to circumcise our son, soon to be born.’
    • ‘Jewish boys are circumcised eight days after birth in a religious ceremony called a bris.’
    • ‘Abraham obeyed God and circumcised his son Ishmael and all other males in his household.’
    • ‘In the past, males were circumcised during the teen years.’
  • 2(as a practice traditional in some cultures) partially or totally remove the external genitalia of (a girl or young woman) for nonmedical reasons.

    • ‘Many of the men have multiple wives, and, according to custom, daughters are circumcised.’
    • ‘The two-day gathering brought together ex-practitioners from East and West Africa, which include regions where up to 90% of girls are circumcised.’
    • ‘Her mother took two girls to a clinic to be circumcised.’
    • ‘The formative study found that among the Sosso, Fulani and Maninka, all girls are expected to be circumcised.’
    • ‘Particular ethnic groups circumcise their women during pregnancy, when they are in labour or when they have given birth to their first child.’
    • ‘Girls are circumcised in smaller groups, and the ceremonies occur more frequently.’
    • ‘It is traditionally accepted for girls in Kenya to be circumcised at age 10 and given away as a bride by age 12.’
    • ‘Girls pass through similar processes, and many also are circumcised.’
    • ‘The Shija female initiation ceremony was performed after the young women were circumcised.’
    • ‘Although the study cannot tell us exactly how many young girls are being circumcised today, it does illustrate the magnitude of the issue.’
    • ‘In 2000, Kenya imposed a fine of $650 and a one-year prison sentence on anyone who circumcises a girl under the age of 18.’
    • ‘According to Amnesty International, an estimated 135 million girls and women across the world are circumcised.’
    • ‘Locals have vowed not to stop circumcising their young girls, a practice which they say is deeply rooted in their society.’
    • ‘The colonial authorities had arrested a woman for circumcising her daughter.’
    • ‘Girls are now being circumcised at earlier ages, most frequently between seven to 12 years old, compared to 15 before.’
    • ‘Waris, now in her early 30s, prays every day for the 130 million girls and women worldwide who are circumcised.’


Middle English: from Old French circonciser, or from Latin circumcis- ‘cut around’, from the verb circumcidere, from circum ‘around, about’ + caedere ‘to cut’.