The Plural of Anus: Here’s What It Is and How to Use It

The English language is a constantly confusing maze of words that seem to break spelling and grammar rules.  This is partly due to the fact that American English is not its own language at the end of the day.  It is, in fact, a conglomeration of several other languages that English has stolen from over the centuries.  Most of English comes from Latin and Greek by way of other European languages such as French, Italian, and Spanish, and our word forms reflect this.  As such, its grammar may be very complicated, and new words are added all the time.

The word anus is actually one such word, where the grammar, pluralization, and spelling are not actually native to English and can therefore be quite confusing. 

Anus is a word people usually dance around. It is often considered impolite to mention anything that has to do with going to the bathroom in everyday conversation. But for many medical professionals, anus is a word that gets used on a daily basis, especially if they are a Gastroenterologist or any similar type of doctor. Doctors that perform colonoscopies are very familiar with the word anus and the many issues that can arise throughout the excretory system.

In this article, let’s explore the proper use of the word anus, how to pluralize it, look for its synonyms, and learn its context.

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What Is the Meaning of Anus?

The first step to understanding a word properly is to learn its definition; before any communication can be established, terms must be defined.  

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of anus is “the opening between a person’s buttocks through which solid waste passes from the body.” The more medical full definition is “the posterior opening of the digestive tract.” The word anus is an anatomical term, and the anus itself plays a huge role in the function of the digestive system. 

The anus is the lower opening of the digestive tract and is usually a 2-inch canal that consists of the pelvic floor muscles and two anal sphincters, both internal and external. In humans, the anus is the lower end of the alimentary canal. This may be somewhat obvious, but the anus is where stool leaves the body. Without an anus, any type of animal that digests food would be unable to get rid of harmful waste in the body.

Most deuterostomes have an anal opening through which to excrete feces. This includes birds, fish, and mammals such as humans. An exception to this is the sea star, which does not have one. 

What Is a Synonym for Anus?

Another good way to learn a word before using it conversationally is by learning words with similar meanings, and there are many synonyms for the word anus.   This is why it’s a good idea to have a thesaurus. Here are some of the most common, albeit somewhat slang synonyms.  

  • Rump/Fanny/Bottom are all words used non-medically with somewhat slang connotation to describe the rear end of something.
  • Tush is another word with a similar meaning.
  • Hindquarters is the word used to describe usually the rear quarter of a large stock animal such as a horse or a cow
  • Buttocks is the medical term for someone’s posterior and is actually one of the few rare medical synonyms.  

Some words that are also similar (medically speaking) to the anus include cecum, gallbladder, kidney, colon, and urethra. All of these words are related to the word anus because they are all part of the same system. 

The Etymology and Origin of the Word

The first known use of the word anus was in the 15th century. The word origin comes from the Latin ānus and originally meant “a ring.” A diminutive of anus is the word annulus. This word was used for medical use in the 1500s, meaning “a ring-like area or space.” This makes sense because the shape of the anus is ring-like in appearance across the board.

There is also a suffix known as “-anus” which is used in words of Latin origin, such as “platanus,” or “creanus.”

Words for the anus noun across languages are actually relatively similar: consider the Russian анус or the Spanish ano.

Example Sentences of the Word in Context

The medical community has professional jargon for speaking about things that may otherwise be considered taboo. You would never find a doctor commonly referring to the anus as a “butt.” But when is it appropriate to use the word anus in context?

 Here are some examples:

  • “The coccyx supports the position of the anus.”
  • “A colonoscope is a soft, bendable tube which is inserted into the anus and then advanced through the entire large intestine.”
  • “It is extremely important to clean the area around your anus after using the bathroom.”

What is the Plural of Anus?

The plural form of anus is actually “anuses,” but it can also be “ani.” This is a common way the English language pluralizes certain words that may sound awkward with an “es” ending. At the end of the day, it is whichever one you would like to use; they are both correct. 

When would be a proper time to use the plural of this word? 

Some examples would be:

  • “The doctor in New York will be performing rectal exams on ten anuses today.”
  • “People born with anuses in the wrong place have a condition known as imperforate anus without fistula.”

In Summary

The word anus may be strange because of its context, but it is a good word to use to avoid sounding childish when describing someone’s rear end. At the end of the day, talking about the area near someone’s genitals is always going to be awkward or uncomfortable. Of course, this depends on what kinds of people you associate with. If all of your friends are doctors, this would be commonplace to discuss whenever it comes up in conversation. On the other hand, if you regularly associate with people who, for instance, work in sales, discussing an anus may be considered wildly inappropriate.