noun Anatomy.
a circular band of voluntary or involuntary muscle that encircles an orifice of the body or one of its hollow organs.

1570–80; < Late Latin < Greek sphinktḗr, equivalent to sphing-, base of sphíngein to hold tight + -tēr suffix denoting agent

sphincteral, sphincterial [sfingk-teer-ee-uhl] , sphincteric [sfingk-ter-ik] , sphincterate [sfingk-ter-it, -tuh-reyt] , adjective
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World English Dictionary
sphincter (ˈsfɪŋktə)
anatomy a ring of muscle surrounding the opening of a hollow organ or body and contracting to close it
[C16: from Late Latin, from Greek sphinkter, from sphingein to grip tightly]

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Word Origin & History

1578, from M.Fr. sphincter, from L.L. sphincter "contractile muscle," from Gk. sphinkter "band, anything that binds tight," from sphingein "to squeeze, bind," of unknown origin. First used in anatomical sense by Galen.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

sphincter sphinc·ter (sfĭngk'tər)
A ringlike muscle that normally maintains constriction of a body passage or orifice and that relaxes as required by normal physiological functioning. Also called anatomical sphincter.

sphinc'ter·al or sphinc·ter'ic (-těr'ĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
sphincter   (sfĭngk'tər)  Pronunciation Key 
A ring-shaped muscle that encircles an opening or passage in the body. The opening and closing of the anus is controlled by contraction and relaxation of a sphincter, as is the opening that leads to the stomach from the esophagus.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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