Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Which is the right thing to say?

  1. Put the thermometer in the armpit.
  2. Put the thermometer under the armpit.
  3. Put the thermometer under the arm.
share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The word armpit is defined as "a hollow under the arm at the shoulder" and therefore I would go with option 1: "Put the thermometer in the armpit." as I strongly believe we put something in a hollow rather than under it, though the expression "under the armpit" is still quite common, probably because many people visualize armpit as "the joint where the arm connects to the shoulder", and thus I don't consider "under the armpit" ungrammatical but technically speaking we don't put things under a hollow.

Goolge Ngram

The expression "under the arm" is grammatical but it describes a less precise location as the arm is defined to be "the part of the upper limb between the shoulder and the elbow joints". Nevertheless, I think people would know which region "under the arm" you are talking about when thermometer is mentioned.

share|improve this answer
add comment

You could use under the axilla.

share|improve this answer
1  
The first two answers have already begin given, leaving "under the axilla." –  KitFox Mar 16 '13 at 0:23
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.