From Charlie Doyle on ADS-L on November 10th:

According to two different ESPN commentators, a University of Georgia football player has had surgery on “both groins.” Doesn’t that sound odd?

Others agreed that it did — the problem being that, in their reckoning, each person has only one groin.

Then still others quoted anatomists, and dictionaries, supplying evidence of a usage in which everyone has two groins, one on each side. This is apparently the older usage, though for a great many, metonymy has shifted the everyday meaning to cover the entire crotch region, with (for them) the older usage surviving only as a technical term in anatomy.

From NOAD:

noun groin: 1 [a] the area between the abdomen and the thigh on either side of the body. [b] informal the region of the genitals. 2 Architecture a curved edge formed by two intersecting vaults.

Sense 1b is metonymical — part for whole — and sense 2 is metaphorical, from 1a.

Thigh muscles in an anatomical drawing:


A groin is the area just below and to one side of the pubic crest, served by the adductor brevis muscle on that side. A groin strain (or pull) is an overstretching or tearing of one of the interior thigh muscles, most commony an adductor muscle, usually as a result of a sudden movement in exercise (kicking, or twisting to change direction during running, skating, or jumping).

Note that “I got a bad groin strain lifting weights” is consistent with locating the injury specifically on the interior side of a leg or more generally inside the crotch area; that is, it’s consistent with either the older (and the anatomical) use of groin or the metonymical informal use.

Bonus: architectural vaults. From NOAD:

noun vault: a roof in the form of an arch or a series of arches, typical of churches and other large, formal buildings.

A simple vault: the barrel vault:


Then from Wikipedia:


A groin vault or groined vault (also sometimes known as a double barrel vault or cross vault) is produced by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults. The word “groin” refers to the edge between the intersecting vaults. … In comparison with a barrel vault, a groin vault provides good economies of material and labour.

A pair of adjoining groins in a groin vault resemble a pair of anatomical groins.

Groin vaults in real life:

(#3) Groin vaults at the west wall of the courtyard, during construction of the Boston Public Library (McKim, Mead & White) in 1890

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