Buttocks Male human buttocks Female human buttocks Artery superior gluteal artery, inferior gluteal artery Nerve superior gluteal nerve, inferior gluteal nerve, superior cluneal nerves, medial cluneal nerves, inferior cluneal nerves MeSH Buttocks
The buttocks (singular: buttock) are two rounded portions of the anatomy, located on the posterior of the pelvic region of apes and humans, and many other bipeds or quadrupeds, and comprise a layer of fat superimposed on the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles. Physiologically, the buttocks enable weight to be taken off the feet while sitting. Many cultures have also used them as a safe target for corporal punishment, and for some cultures they play a role in sexual attraction. There are several connotations of buttocks in art, fashion, culture and humor, and the English language is replete with many popular synonyms.
The buttocks are formed by the masses of the gluteal muscles or 'glutes' (the gluteus maximus muscle and the gluteus medius muscle) superimposed by a layer of fat. The superior aspect of the buttock ends at the iliac crest, and the lower aspect is outlined by the horizontal gluteal crease. The gluteus maximus has two insertion points: 1/3 superior portion of the linea aspera of the femur, and the superior portion of the iliotibial tractus. The masses of the gluteus maximus muscle are separated by an intermediate intergluteal cleft or "crack" in which the anus is situated.
The buttocks allow primates to sit upright without needing to rest their weight on their feet as four-legged animals do. Females of certain species of baboon have red buttocks that blush to attract males. In the case of humans, females tend to have proportionally wider and thicker buttocks due to higher subcutaneous fat and proportionally wider hips.
Some baboons and all gibbons, though otherwise fur-covered, have characteristic naked callosities on their buttocks. While human children generally have smooth buttocks, mature males and females have varying degrees of hair growth, as on other parts of their body. Females may have hair growth in the gluteal cleft (including around the anus), sometimes extending laterally onto the lower aspect of the cheeks. Males may have hair growth over some or all of the buttocks.
The English word of Greek origin "callipygian" indicates someone who has beautiful buttocks. However, the qualities that make buttocks beautiful or well-formed are not fixed, as sexual aesthetics of the buttocks vary considerably from culture to culture, from one period of fashion to another and even from person to person.
In ancient astrology, various parts of the body were associated with signs of the zodiac - e.g. the buttocks to Libra (The Balance). Depending on the context, exposure of the buttocks in non-intimate situations often causes feelings of shame, embarrassment or humiliation in a non-exhibitionist subject, and embarrassment or amusement in a non-voyeurist audience (see pantsing). Expressions such as being caught with one's pants/ trousers down or more explicitly in Dutch, "met de billen bloot" ("with bared buttocks"), use the image as a metaphor for non-physical embarrassment as well.
Willfully exposing one's own bare buttocks as a protest, a provocation, or just for fun is called mooning.
A wedgie is pulling someone's undergarments or swimming trunks up through their buttock crack to be hauled over the top of the victim's trousers, sometimes partially baring the victim's buttocks.
It is no coincidence that the English verb to spank is the only one specifically meant for physical discipline of a specific part of the body, and various other languages have terms specifically referring to spanking; in many punitive traditions, the buttocks are the preferential target for painful lessons, from educational to judicial, as offering them for punishment (especially uncovered) adds a psychological dose of embarrassment and even sexual humiliation to the pain, which can be meted out with less risk of long term physical harm than elsewhere. There are, in various cultural traditions, expressions like "seat of learning" which refer to the preferential paining of the posterior in a submissively bent and exposed position.[original research?]
Many comedians, writers and others rely on the buttocks in these and other ways (such as flatulence and toilet humor) as a source of amusement, camaraderie and fun, despite (or in some cases for the sake of) the risk of being in dubious taste, if not censored.
In the majority of modern cultures, the buttocks are rarely shown naked and are generally considered unsuitable for ornamental body markings and body modification. However, they may be preferential for discreet markings, such as secretive membership proof or to be shown in intimate company (e.g. amongst lovers).
In American English, phrases use the buttocks or synonyms (especially "butt" and "ass") as a synecdoche or pars pro toto for a whole person, but generally with a negative connotation. For example, terminating an employee may be described as "firing his ass". One might say "move your ass" or "haul ass" (or the polite, understood euphemisms "move it" or "haul it") as an exhortation to greater haste or urgency. Expressed as a function of punishment, defeat or assault becomes "kicking one's ass". Such phrases also may suggest a person's characteristics, e.g. difficult people are termed "hard asses" (polite euphemism: "hard nosed"). People deemed excessively puritanical or proper may be termed "tight asses" (in Australia and New Zealand, "tight arse" refers to someone who is excessively miserly). An annoying person or any source of frustration may be termed "a pain in the arse" (euphemism: "a pain in the neck", though some claim that this alleged euphemism actually appeared in English earlier than the former). An incompetent or ignorant person is sometimes called a "dumbass", and an annoying person a "jackass".
Certain physical dispositions of the buttocks—particularly size—are sometimes identified, controversially, as a racial characteristic (see race). The most famous intersection of racism and buttocks may be the case of Saartjie Baartman, the so-called Hottentot Venus.
- See WikiSaurus:buttocks for a list of synonyms and slang words for buttocks in many languages. For unrelated homophones of butt(ocks), see also butt (disambiguation) and bud (disambiguation)
- backside, posterior, behind and its derivates (hind-quarters, hinder or the childish homophone heinie (US usage only), strictly the whole body behind the hind leg-trunk attachment), rear or rear-end, derrière (French for "behind") - all strictly positional descriptions, as the inaccurate use of rump (as in 'rump roast', after a 'hot' spanking), thighs, upper legs; analogous are:
- aft, stern and poop, naval in origin; in nautical jargon, buttocks also designates the aftermost portion of a hull above the water line and in front of the rudder, merging with the run below the water line
- apple (bottom), referring to the similar shape of the fruit, derived from the 1970s. Also likened to an upside-down heart, attributed from various, popular ads of the '70s.
- caboose, originally a ship's galley in wooden cabin on deck; also the "rear end" car of a freight train, considered a cute synonym suitable for any audience
- bottom (and the shortening "bot" as well as childish diminutives "bottie" or "botty"), but the use of similar-sounding booty is artistic liberty
- tail (strictly anatomically a zoomorphism, humans only have a tail-bone, yet the illogical "tail feather" was popularized by musicians; also used for the even more sensual phallus) and tail-end
- trunk, in American English, particularly when describing large buttocks: "junk in the trunk"
- arse or ass, arsehole or asshole, and (butt-)hole - a pars pro toto (strictly only the actual body cavity and directly adjoining anal region); also used as an insult for a person. The term is Anglo-Saxon dialect, and over a thousand years old.
- badonkadonk - onomatopoeic slang meaning the voluptuously bouncing, large yet firm buttocks of a woman
- breech, a metaphorical sense derived from on older form of the garment breeches (as the French culotte meaning pantoloons, via cul from Latin culus 'butt'), so 'bare breech' means without breeches, i.e. trouserless butt
- bum - in British English, used frequently in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other English speaking Commonwealth countries, also historically in U.S., is a mild often humorous reference to buttocks, not necessarily in vulgar or sexual context: "I've a boil on my bum, thrice as large as my thumb" - The Judge With The Sore Rump, St. George Tucker. Also used in reference to anal intercourse, often as an insult, as in bum boy (for a homosexual). Also a verb - to practise anal intercourse.
- bumpy - a euphemistic term for the buttocks, used primarily with children
- buns, from Gaelic bun "bottom, base", mounds (cfr. Butte, a geographical mound, known since 1805 in American English, from (Old) French butte "mound, knoll") and orbs - shape-metaphors.
- bund - derived from Punjabi
- bunda - bottom, of Brazilian Portuguese origin.
- butt - the common term for a pair of buttocks (singular, as one body-part; cognate but neither its root nor an abbreviation) in the US, used in everyday speech.
- can (a container) had an unusual development: the slang meaning "toilet" is recorded circa 1900, said to be a shortening of piss-can, the meaning "buttocks" from c. 1910, verb meaning "fire an employee" (to flush=dump?) from 1905.
- cheeks, a shape-metaphor within human anatomy, but also used in the singular: left cheek and right cheek; sounds particularly naughty because of the homonym and the adjective cheeky, lending themselves to word puns
- culo - (From Spanish/Italian) slang, usually meaning a woman's voluptuous, round and firm buttocks. Put simply the Latino equivalent of booty, although in Spanish it is considered vulgar and offensive (but less so in Spain than in Latin America).
- duffs - Scotch Irish origin
- dumper sometimes denotes the buttocks, especially when talking about a large butt.
- fanny - a socially acceptable term in print, in the United States at least, for many years before some of the bolder terms came along; and a subject of jokes, since "Fannie" can be a woman's name, diminutive of "Frances"; however, in British English fanny refers to the female genitals or vulva and is considered vulgar. The figure of a bare-bottomed lass named Fanny is ubiquitous in Provence (the southeast of France) wherever pétanque is played: traditionally when a player loses 13 to 0 it is said that “il est fanny” (he's fanny), and he has to kiss the bottom of a girl called Fanny; as there is rarely an obliging Fanny, there is always a substitute picture, woodcarving or pottery so that Fanny’s bottom is always available.
- fourth point of contact: in military slang, because of the sequence of textbook parachute jump landing
- fundament (literally "foundation", not common in this general sense in English, but for the butt since 1297)
- Gand or Gaand - a Hindi derivate
- hams, like buttocks generally as a plural, after the meat cut from the analogous part of a hog ; pressed ham refers to mooning against a window; brawn, a singular derived from the Frankish for ham or roast, is also used for both a muscular body part (but either on arms or legs) or boar meat, especially roast
- hurdies - British, origin unknown, also applied to the whole rump
- moon was a common shape-metaphor for the butt in English since 1756, and the verb to moon meant 'to expose to (moon)light' since 1601, long before they were combined in US student slang in the verb (al expression) mooning "to flash the buttocks" in 1968.
- prat (British English, origin unknown; as in pratfall, a vaudeville term; also a term of abuse for a person)
- seat (of the trousers; or metaphorically) another long-standing socially acceptable term, referring to the use for sitting - but compare the sarcastic use of seat of wisdom and similar expressions, such as 'seat of learning', referring to use as target for an 'educational' spanking.
- sit-upon; has various independent counterparts in other languages, e.g. Dutch zitvlak ('sitting plain'), German Gesäß Italian sedere
- six; in military terminology, particularly in the U.S. Navy, it refers to the term "six o'clock", i. e. a point directly behind the referenced person.
- Tush or tushy (from the Yiddish language "tuchis" or "tochis" meaning "under" or "beneath")
- ultimatum (Latin, literally 'the outer-most') was used in slang c.1820s.
- The word "callipygian" is sometimes used to describe someone with notably attractive buttocks. The term comes from the Greek kallipygos, (first used for the Venus Kallipygos) which literally means "beautiful buttocks"; the prefix is also a root of "calligraphy" (beautiful writing) and "calliope" (beautiful voice); callimammapygian means having both beautiful breasts and buttocks.
- Both the English (in) tails and the Dutch billentikker ('tapping the buttocks') are ironic terms for very formal coats with a significantly longer tail end as part of festive (especially wedding party) dress
- Macropygia means 'heaving large buttocks, hindquarter', and occurs in biological species names,
- A pygopag(ous) (from the Greek pygè 'buttock' and pagein 'attached') was a monster in Ancient (Greek) mythology consisting of two bodies joint by common buttocks, now a medical term for 'Siamese' twins thus joint back-to-back
- Pygophilia is sexual arousal or excitement caused by seeing, playing with or touching the buttocks; people who have strong attraction to buttocks are called pygophilists.
- Pygoscopia means observing someone's rear; pygoscopophobia a pathological fear to be its unwilling object
- Pygalgia is soreness in the buttocks, i.e. a pain in the rump.
- Steatopygia is a marked accumulation of fat in and around the buttocks.
- Uropygial in ornithology means situated on or belonging to the uropygium, i.e. the rump of a bird.
- "Bubble butt" has at least two connotations, which are at odds with each other: either a small, round and firm pair of buttocks resembling a pair of soap bubbles next to each other, or a large rear end, seemingly about to burst from the strain. In both cases, the term implies an appealing shapeliness about the buttocks.
Because many cultures have a nudity taboo, which usually applies specifically to the buttocks (as usually to the most erogenous zones), mainstream garments generally cover the buttocks completely, even when it is not a practical requirement. Nevertheless male and female clothing is often designed in a way that reveals the shape of the buttocks under the clothing.
Some articles of clothing are designed to expose the buttocks. Such clothing is not generally worn in public situations; however, it is sometimes considered appropriate to wear such clothing at swimming facilities or at the beach.
Emphasis on one part or another of the body tends to shift with generations. The 1880s were well-known for the fashion trend among women called the bustle, which made even the smallest buttocks appear huge. The popularity of this fashion is shown in the famous Georges Seurat painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in the two women to the far left and right. Like long underwear with the ubiquitous 'butt flap' (used to allow baring only the bottom with a simple gesture, as for hygiene), this clothing style was acknowledged in popular media such as cartoons and comics for generations afterward.
More recently, the cleavage of the buttocks is sometimes exposed by some women, deliberately or accidentally, as fashion dictated trousers be worn lower, as with hip-hugger pants.
An example of another attitude in an otherwise hardly exhibitionist culture is the Japanese fundoshi.
In popular culture
- In 1966 Yoko Ono made a roughly 90 minute-long experimental film called No. 4, which is colloquially known as Bottoms. It consists of footage of human buttocks in motion while the person walks on a turntable.
- The 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap contained the song "Big Bottom" featuring the lyric Big bottom, big bottom, Talk about bum cakes, my girl's got 'em, Big bottom drive me out of my mind, How could I leave this behind?
- Numerous songs have been released which glorify this body part. As early as 1961, the American Folk band The Limeliters recorded the song "Vicki Dougan" [sic, properly Vikki Dougan], which pays a humorous tribute to the pin-up star who wore infamously low-cut, backless dresses. A risque song for the time, the lyrics mention her "callipygian cleft" by name. Other English language examples include:
- Rolling Stone magazine named the 1990s the "Decade of the Butt" because many of these songs were released in that decade.
- ^ "Police.". The Times (London). 22 March 1894. http://www.corpun.com/uks89403.htm. ""Mr. Curtis Bennett deprecated caning on the hands and boxing the ears, and said they were exceedingly dangerous forms of punishment. Nature provided a special place for boys to be punished upon and it should be used."
- ^ Hennig, Jean-Luc (1995). The rear view: A brief and elegant history of bottoms through the ages. London: Souvenir. ISBN 0-285-63303-1.
- ^ "nates - Definitions from Dictionary.com". http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=nates.
- ^ Pétanque. La Fanny, Légende
- Etymology on line one can also search for most synonyms
- For synonyms: On-line thesaurus
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. passim
Human regional anatomy (TA A01.1) Head Neck Trunk LimbsLower limb/
(see also leg)General anatomy: systems and organs, regional anatomy, planes and lines, superficial axial anatomy, superficial anatomy of limbs
List of muscles of lower limbs (TA A04.7, GA 4.465) ILIAC Region
BUTTOCKS THIGH /
compartmentsfibularis muscles (longus, brevis)
FOOTDorsalPlantar Upper limb Lower limbGeneral anatomy: systems and organs, regional anatomy, planes and lines, superficial axial anatomy, superficial anatomy of limbs
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