Why is it called a dimple?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

The term “dimple” is used to describe a natural, temporary indentation that can occur in various soft parts of the human body, particularly in the cheeks when a person smiles. The origin of the word “dimple” is somewhat uncertain, but it is believed to have derived from Old English as a word meaning “pothole.” This connection suggests that a dimple resembles a small depression or hollow.

The specific etymology of the word “dimple” can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic word *dumpilaz, which is thought to be the root of various related words in different languages. While the exact meaning of *dumpilaz is not known, its descendants in other languages often refer to something small or shallow. This aligns with the concept of a dimple being a small indentation in the skin.

Interestingly, the term “dimple” is not limited to describing facial dimples alone. It can also be used to refer to indentations that occur in other parts of the body, such as the chin or elbows. These dimples are typically formed by the underlying structure of muscles, tendons, or bones, and are often more permanent than facial dimples.

The charm and appeal of facial dimples have been celebrated throughout history and across cultures. Many people find dimples attractive and endearing, as they add a touch of playfulness to a person’s smile. Dimples can also be seen as a symbol of youthfulness and innocence.

While the exact reason why some individuals have dimples and others do not is not fully understood, it is believed to be primarily a genetic trait. Dimples are thought to be caused by variations in the structure of the facial muscles, particularly the zygomaticus major muscle, which is responsible for raising the corners of the mouth when a person smiles. In individuals with dimples, this muscle is often shorter or split, which creates the distinctive dimple when the muscle contracts.

Personal experiences with dimples can vary greatly. Some individuals may have grown up with dimples and received compliments on their charming smile, while others may have always been curious about why they do not have dimples like their family members or friends. Additionally, some individuals may have developed dimples later in life due to weight loss or changes in muscle tone.

The term “dimple” is used to describe a natural, temporary indentation in various soft parts of the human body. Its exact origin is uncertain but likely has connections to the Old English word meaning “pothole.” Dimples are typically genetic traits caused by variations in the structure of facial muscles. They are often seen as attractive and add a playful touch to a person’s smile.