Home » Episodes » The Love Dimple (minicast)

The Love Dimple (minicast)

Play episode

What’s the name for that little dent in your upper lip? It’s called a “philtrum.” Martha reveals the erotic origins of this word, and proves once again that etymology is nothing if not sexy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • My youngest child, who is now 18 and just starting university in SoCal, came up with her own name for that love dimple. We have no idea where it came from (but some ideas), though she had a lot of funny sayings when she was tiny. And so in our house it’s now called the “pretty soon” in honor of Shannon. Ahhh – we love it. 🙂


  • The “pretty soon”? I love that! But why that particular moniker? Because you’d head toward her with a kleenex saying, “I’m going to have to wipe that pretty soon?” Or what?

  • The precise translation of “Oberlippenrinne” is upper-lip groove. Yes, gutter is one of the translatlions for Rinne, but more in the sense of, for example, an eave(s) gutter. Groove is one of the alternate translations I found on Translator’s Home Companion.

    I do have one question about the word “philtrum” and that is, how does a Greek word get to have a Latin ending? I guess that’s fairly common, but how and why does it happen? I can see suffixes and prefixes, because those can simply be added by the person or comittee coining a neologism, but this is not a case of that, this is a root word ending.

    Glad to hear you’ll be doing new shows! Lkg fwd 2’m!

  • The precise translation is upper-lip groove. “Rinne” translated as “gutter” is eavestrough.

  • I’m referring to the podcast, where Martha mentions the German word “Oberlippenrinne” as translating to “over-the-lip gutter”. In case my previous post wasn’t clear.

  • You guys missed it!

    There’s a midrash (a Rabbinic story)about that little indentation.

    Each of us is said to possess all the accumulated wisdom and knowledge in the world while we are still in the womb. As we leave, we strike a bargain with G-d, who presses his finger upon our upper lip sealing the promise to keep it a secret.

    Not very sexy, I’m afraid, but at least as plausible.

  • OOPS. Talk about judging a book by its cover. My comment was written without having listened to the podcast. Sorry Martha….you covered it well and fully. I’m taught. Listen first…then respond. Nice job.

  • I know the Rabbinical story differently. Before we are born, the Almighty sends us an angel to be with us in the womb, teaching us all the knowledge in the world, so we know everything. But when we are born, this angel “seals our lips” and we forget eveything, and we have to start learning everything again.

  • Very cool, Tanja! I’ve also heard one rabbi describe that “pressing his finger” as more like a hard thwack! Two rabbis, three opinions, eh?

More from this show

Cool Beans

If you speak a second or third language, you may remember the first time you dreamed in that new tongue. But does this milestone mean...

Love Bites

The word filibuster has a long and colorful history, going back to the days when pirates roamed the high seas. Today it refers to hijacking...