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Definition of «Labial»


Labial: Pertaining to the lip, one of the fleshy folds which surround the opening of the mouth or the vagina.

Oral Labia: The upper lip is separated from the nose by the philtrum, the area that lies between the base of the nose and the pigmented edge (called the vermillion border or the carmine margin) of the upper lip. The upper and lower lips meet at the corners (or angles) of the mouth which, in anatomy, are called the oral commissures. The oral commissure normally lies in a vertical line below the pupil.

Small blind pits are sometimes seen at the corners of the mouth; they are known as angular lip pits and are considered normal minor variants.

The lips may be abnormally thin or thick. For example, the upper lip is typically thin and the philtrum flat in children with the fetal alcohol syndrome. If the upper lip is overgrown, the corners of the mouth appear to be downturned.

Labial Sounds: The lips are not only anatomic features of note, they are organs of speech essential to certain articulations. A sound requiring the participation of one or both lips is a labial (labium in Latin means lip) sound or, simply, a labial. All labials are consonants. There are bilabial sounds such as "p" which involve both lips and labiodental sounds such as "v" which involve the upper teeth and lower lip.

Vaginal Labia: There are two pairs of labia (lips) at the entrance to the vagina. They are the labia majora (the larger outside pair) and the labia minora (the smaller inside pair). Together they form part of the vulva (the female external genitalia).

The Word "Labia": The word "lip" can be traced back to the Indo-European "leb" which also produced the Latin "labium" from which came the French "levre." The German "lippe" is just a slip from the English "lip." See also: Labrose.

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