Language for a Woman’s body

Ever wondered where terms that describe a woman’s reproductive organs came from? I do. Most of this information came from searching

Pelvis –Nice simple etymology: Pelvis is the Latin word for a basin , which the anatomic pelvis resembles – somewhat.

1767, in anatomy, from Mod.L. sacralis, from sacrum, the bone (see sacrum). In anthropology, from 1882, from L. sacrum “sacred thing, rite” (see sacred).

Vulva – Vulva is the Latin word for a wrapper. It was also used to mean the uterus, a kind of wrapper for an embryo or fetus. Subsequently it came to have its present meaning, the female external genitalia.

Vagina – The basic meaning of the Latin word vagina was a sheath – or scabbard for a sword. By association, Gladius (sword) was a common term for the penis.

Clitoris – is borrowed directly from kleitoris, a Greek word for both a door-tender and the female organ. This is thought to relate to kleis, a key, by which one gains entrance through a door.

Cervix 1741, from L. cervix, lit. “the neck, nape of the neck.” Applied to various neck-like structures of the body, especially that of the uterus. Cervical is attested from 1680s, from Fr. cervical, from L. cervix.


1680s, from L. fornix “arch, vaulted chamber” (see fornication).

from L. fundus “bottom” (see fund (n.)).

1882, medical Latin, from endo- + Gk. metra “uterus,” related to meter (see mother).

“monthly discharge of blood from the uterus,” 1590s, from L. menses, pl. of mensis “month” (see moon).

Uterus 1610s, from L. uterus “womb, belly” (pl. uteri)

1 thought on “Language for a Woman’s body

  1. Hello Gloria,
    I am a registered psychiatric nurse and just assisted my sister 2 days ago in the birth of her baby daughter. I am interested in your doula courses. I my self used a doula for both the births of my two children. My question is, if I were to practice as a doula do I need to take out insurance? I have also taken my RPN to BSCN and do have the “credentials” but not the certificate. Any information would be helpful. Please email me a

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