Adam's apple

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Laryngeal prominence
An example of male laryngeal prominence.
Front view of neck.
Latinprominentia laryngea
Precursor4th and 6th branchial arch
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Laryngeal prominence
An example of male laryngeal prominence.
Front view of neck.
Latinprominentia laryngea
Precursor4th and 6th branchial arch

The Adam's apple (technically known as the laryngeal prominence) is a feature of the human neck and refers to the lump or protrusion that is formed by the angle of the thyroid cartilage surrounding the larynx.

The structure of the laryngeal prominence forms a bump under the skin. It is larger in adult men, in whom it is usually clearly visible and palpable. In women, the bump is much less visible and is hardly perceived on the upper edge of the thyroid cartilage.[1]

The meeting point of the union of the two portions of the cartilage generally forms an acute angle (of about 90°) in men, while in women, an open arc (of about 120°).



There are two main theories as to the origin of the term' "Adam's apple". The "Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable" and the 1913 edition of Webster's Dictionary points at an ancient belief that a piece of forbidden fruit was embedded in Adam's throat (the first man, according to Abrahamic religions).[2] However, neither the Bible nor other Judeo-Christian writings mention it. The biblical story doesn't even describe what was the specific type of fruit that Adam ate.[3]

Linguist Alexander Gode claimed that the Latin phrase to designate the laryngeal protuberance was very probably translated incorrectly from the beginning. The phrase in Latin was "pomum Adami" (literally: 'Adam's apple'). This, in turn, came from the Hebrew "tappuach ha adam" meaning "male bump". The confusion lies in the fact that in Hebrew language, the proper name "Adam" (אדם) literally means "man", and the late Hebrew word used to refer "bump" is very similar to the word used to refer "apple".[4][5] Supporters of this version ensure that the subsequent phrases in Latin and other Romance languages represent a mistranslation from the beginning.[6]

The medical term "prominentia laryngea" was introduced by the Basle Nomina Anatomica in 1895.[7]

Sexual characteristic

Adam's apple.JPG

Although both sexes have it, Adam's apple is considered a characteristic feature of adult men, because its size tends to increase considerably during puberty.[8]

Its development is considered a secondary sexual characteristic of males, that appears as a result of hormonal activity. Its level of development varies from individual and the widening of that area in the larynx can occur very suddenly and quickly.

Anatomical function

The Adam's apple, in conjunction with the thyroid cartilage which forms it, helps to protect the walls and the frontal part of the larynx, including the vocal chords (which are located directly behind it).

Another function of the laryngeal protuberance is related to the deepening of the voice. During adolescence, the thyroid cartilage grows together with the larynx. Consequently, the laryngeal protrusion grows in size mainly in men. Together, a larger soundboard is made up in phonation apparatus, and, as a result, the man gets a deeper tone.[9][10]


Cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of laryngeal prominence is called chondrolaryngoplasty (thyroid chondroplasty).[11] It is done mainly for trans women who have aesthetic motives. The risky surgical procedure, which usually is very expensive, may change the voice of the person, and various cases show that artificial alteration of Adam's apple by surgery, can cause permanent and irreversible damage, including severe problems in vocal cords or thyroid sheets, hypertrophic visible and unsightly scars, breathing difficulties, swallowing problems, problems of speech habilities,[12][13] reduced frequencies while singing, and complications such as reactions to anesthesia, infections and other damage to surrounding areas such as the laryngeal nerve.

Additional Images


  1. ^ "Laringe". Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  2. ^ E. Cobham Brewer (1810–1897). Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898. "Adam's Apple"
  3. ^ George Crabb (1823), "Universal technological dictionary", Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, "Pomum Ada'mi"
  4. ^ William S. Haubrich (2003), "Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins", ACP Press, pág 5.
  5. ^ "Adam's apple".'s_apple. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  6. ^ Robert B. Taylor (2008), "White Coat Tales: Medicine's Heroes, Heritage and Misadventures", Springer, pág 82.
  7. ^ Axel Karenberg, Amor, Äskulap & Co: klassische Mythologie in der Sprache der modernen Medizin, Schattauer, Stuttgart 2006, S. 128-129.
  8. ^ "Prominentia laryngea Medical Term Medical Dictionary". Medicine Online. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  9. ^ P. J. Bentley (1980), "Endocrine Pharmacology: Physiological Basis and Therapeutic Applications", CUP Archive, pág 240
  10. ^ "Pubertad, nuestras diferencias". Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  11. ^ Wolfort FG, Dejerine ES, Ramos DJ, Parry RG (1990). "Chondrolaryngoplasty for appearance". Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 86 (3): 464–9; discussion 470. doi:10.1097/00006534-199009000-00012. PMID 2385664.
  12. ^ "Cosmetic Surgery Southern California - Nip/Tuck - Under the Knife". Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  13. ^ "Laryngeal Prominence". Retrieved 2013-02-27.

External links