One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A sebaceous secretion in the folds of the skin, especially under a man's foreskin.
- ‘When the foreskin is removed during circumcision, smegma no longer accumulates between the foreskin and glans, and smegma's immunoprotective properties are lost.’
- ‘For example, it would be interesting to determine if smegma, a glandular discharge that collects under the foreskin and lubricates the glans, has spermicidal properties.’
- ‘One consequence of the germ theory of disease was to see smegma, produced by the foreskin, as infectious material.’
- ‘Some doctors mistakenly think that the smegma under the foreskin is an infection, even though it is white rather than red, is cold to the touch, and is painless.’
Early 19th century: via Latin from Greek smēgma ‘soap’, from smēkhein ‘cleanse’.
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