The penis is translated as "阴茎" (literally "yin stem"), but it is a male organ. In the traditional concepts of yin and yang, "阴" is generally associated with the female sex.

To support the idea, the term "阳具" (literally "yang tool") is also used to describe the penis (and scrotum).

Why is the penis, a male reproductive organ, associated with the word "阴"?

3 Answers 3


According to this fengshui expert, the penis and the vagina are both named not because of the gender of the bearer, but via Western medical terminology because they originate from the perineum (会阴).



The answer by Chinese boy is right, 陰 is a technical term for the genitals, male or female.

Etymologically, 陰 as genitals may very well have come from dark, hidden, etc. as Colin suggested above. Morohashi's Dai kanwa jiten cites 釋名, a late Han dynasty dictionary, for this meaning: 陰,蔭也。言所在蔭翳也。 Not so different from English 'privates' perhaps.

Examples of 陰 without regard to male or female include 陰部 'genitals', 外陰 'external genitalia', 陰毛 'pubic hair', 陰蝨 'crabs' and so on. Other male body parts using 陰 include 陰囊 'scrotum'.





  • 1
    Do you think this could be be because 阴 suggests "hidden"? Or somehow covered over? Mar 12, 2017 at 20:11
  • 1
    那么为什么男性的那个位置被称为下阴呢?下阳不会更合适吗?Then why is that place called 下阴, even though it's a place in the male body? Wouldn't 下阳 be more appropriate? :)
    – Sweeper
    Mar 12, 2017 at 20:36
  • @ColinMcLarty I believe it's "dark" so "covered/shaded" is close. 阴,暗也。——《说文》
    – NS.X.
    Mar 13, 2017 at 4:06
  • -1, no sources made to support this argument.
    – March Ho
    Mar 13, 2017 at 11:58
  • @Sweeper 这又不是我定的,我也很无奈啊..... Mar 13, 2017 at 14:58

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