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What's the difference between (humanly anatomical) "groin" and "crotch". According to the unbelievably helpful definitions from the OALD 6:

  • crotch: the part of the body where the legs join at the top, including the area around the genitals
  • groin: the part of the body where the legs join at the top including the area around the genitals (=sex organs)

I can't find a pictorial comparison so I'm still very confused.

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    @Rathony Not in this case google.com.vn/… google.com.vn/… Nov 24, 2016 at 14:33
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    I'm looking for a comparison dude. Of course I gotta type both. And even if I search for "crotch" only, there still aren't useful results that could help me distinguish it from "groin" google.com.vn/… Nov 25, 2016 at 1:04
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    It's Inside/Outside, like the difference between belly (the protrusion and surface area around the stomach) and stomach (the interior area of the belly). Nov 26, 2016 at 20:03
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    @JohnLawler Except "stomach" can be used non-technically as a synonym of "belly". Nov 26, 2016 at 21:08
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    Of course. And groin for crotch. This is useful for euphemistic purposes. Nov 26, 2016 at 21:10

6 Answers 6

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+100

Yes, they are labels for the same area of the body but have different connotations, collocations and separate other meanings.

  • groin has another related meaning in architecture, for where two arches meet at a right angle
  • you can have a groin injury which is in the muscles and tendons from the legs that attach to the pelvis near the perineum
  • crotch has a related meaning for where a large branch separates from the main trunk of the tree or the trunk splits into two parts (specifically the 'vee' shaped area).
  • you can be kicked in the crotch as a euphemism for being kicked in the testicles, but being kicked in the groin doesn't necessarily imply testicles.
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    Are you saying that the 'groin' refers to the anatomical structure including the bone, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, genitals and urinary tract and that that the 'crotch' refers to the same part of the body but is a more superficial, non medical term? If so I think I agree with you.
    – BoldBen
    Nov 26, 2016 at 15:11
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    @BoldBen Yes, that general anatomical area for groin. 'groin' is an architectural and medical term; crotch is a botanist term. Crotch is more metaphorical. It can be used for most any kind of place where two things fork off. Crotch refers to the meeting place of the two legs of pants in garment description (you would not use groin at all for this: "I spilled some soup on my pants in the ... uh ... groin area" "Oh, you mean right on your crotch?. That's pretty embarassing!".
    – Mitch
    Nov 26, 2016 at 16:03
  • It still confuses me because if they only differ in register, not in meaning (at least significantly), why aren't they considered synonyms or at least quasi-synonyms (thesaurus.com/browse/groin thesaurus.com/browse/crotch?s=t). There must be some noticeable differences. Nov 26, 2016 at 16:23
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    @Vun-HughVaw 1) don't rely on a single dictionary. They all simplify to fit succinctly, and so may leave out important nuances.2) There are never exact synonyms (except maybe in math/science and then only by stipulation and even then meanings drift).
    – Mitch
    Nov 26, 2016 at 17:28
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    « where Atwood's a large branch separates from the main trunk of the tree » — How does a Canadian author enter into this?! Nov 28, 2016 at 18:28
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Groin is a technical word meaning: The groin is actually a group of five muscles that attach the thigh to the pelvis, and everyone has these muscles. They are also called the "adductors." Thus, one has an injury to the groin.

Crotch: In humans, the crotch is the bottom of the pelvis, the region of the body where the legs join the torso, and is often considered to include the groin and genitals. By extension, the crotch of a tree. One can have what men call crotch itch.

The crotch includes the groin and genitals whereas the groin is a group of muscles, technically. Very simple.

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The groin is where the elastic sits in traditional fitted underwear (panties for women, tighty whities or briefs for men), on the inside of the top of the thigh. If you look at a simple plastic doll that has legs that can turn and change their angle from the body, the groin is the place where the two parts come together (body and leg), near where the genitals would be if a doll had genitals.

To understand crotch, there are two things to think about. One is the crotch of a tree. That's a place where the trunk forks, and you end up with something Y-shaped. It's the part of the tree that's most vulnerable to damage from an ice storm, because the main trunk could split in two there.

The second thing to think about is rappers who grab their crotch on stage. I once heard a rapper explain in an interview with Terri Gross on Fresh Air that this gesture comes from fear. I'm sure there are other explanations related to bravado.

At any rate, groin is a precise location on the body, but crotch is more vague, it's that general area that would be covered up with a fig leaf in certain paintings.

When you go to the doctor and want to show him or her a questionable mole or bump or rash or whatever, you would not say that it is in your crotch area. Well, you could, but then the doctor would think you are a little crude. In this context, it would be much better to use a more precise word to describe exactly where the concern is located.

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    Do you really say panties when referring to knickers? Panties sounds to my BrE ear like something a toddler would say. Nov 28, 2016 at 22:45
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    @BladorthinTheGrey - As hard as it may be to believe, knickers sounds equally strange to our ears. Isn't there some nice quote about two people or peoples divided by a common language? Nov 28, 2016 at 22:55
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    I think we should table this discussion :-)
    – John Feltz
    Nov 29, 2016 at 0:22
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    Oh wow. I thought talking language heads knew the basic differences. Don't you people read novels or see films from across the pond in either direction?? Yes, I am shocked.
    – Lambie
    Nov 29, 2016 at 13:26
  • @JohnFeltz A good example of the differences, John. To us that means that we should schedule it formally, not abandon it!
    – BoldBen
    Dec 4, 2016 at 10:50
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The etymology of groin derives from late Middle English grynde, perhaps from Old English grynde ‘depression, abyss’. Crotch derives from mid 16th century (denoting an agricultural or garden fork, also a crutch): perhaps related to Old French croche ‘crozier, shepherd's crook’, based on Old Norse krókr ‘hook’; partly also a variant of crutch. Groin and crotch can commonly be used to refer to the same thing, but crotch can also be used for clothing (i.e. The crotch of a pair of jeans). "Crotch" can also mean the "angle or region of the angle formed by the junction of two parts or members, such as two branches or legs". "Groin" is more of an anatomical term which specifically refers to "the crease or hollow at the junction of the inner part of each thigh with the trunk, together with the adjacent region and often including the external genitals." Hope this helps :)

Sources: Google search "define groin" and "define crotch" and https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/69676-Crotch-vs-groin

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The difference is that the former is far more polite than the latter. Doctors treat patients with groin injuries, never crotch injuries.

Equally you don't hear infantry squaddies say that the sergeant is a pain in the groin. More likely it would be for him to be a a pain in the crotch.

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    The former/latter is confusing since the list order in the question is different from the titular order.
    – Helmar
    Nov 24, 2016 at 15:14
  • @Helmar The question and the first sentence in the body use the same order. Also, there is another sentence, "Doctors treat patients with groin injuries, never crotch injuries.". What is confusing?
    – user140086
    Nov 24, 2016 at 15:42
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    It's fun that the words crutch, crotch, crochet, and crotchety, with such diverse meanings, have much in common etymologically.
    – Airymouse
    Nov 24, 2016 at 18:05
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    "Far more impolite"? I don't find them that different. Yes, more likely to hear groin than crotch.
    – Mitch
    Nov 26, 2016 at 14:25
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    That may be a difference in connotation - sometimes, in some contexts. But it is certainly NOT "the difference". Not at all.
    – Drew
    Nov 29, 2016 at 15:44
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The best definition of groin is from Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary:

  1. Topographic area of the inferior abdomen related to the inguinal canal, lateral to the pubic region.

  2. Sometimes used to indicate only the crease in the junction of the thigh with the trunk.

So the groin is really to one side or the other of the genitals.

On the other hand, crotch is :

A fork or forking; the parting of two legs or branches; as the crotch of a tree.

Often the two are used interchangeably in casual speech. "Crotch" is the right word to use for clothing or measuring for clothing.

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