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The verb 'to circumcise' is one of those verbs ending in the sound 'EYES' (IPA: /aɪz/) for which, despite the advice in -ise - -ize, the spelling with -ise "is compulsory" (Burchfield's Fowler). 'To circumcise' means, etymologically speaking, 'to cut round'. It is largely limited to cutting round, or removing, the foreskin of the penis. This is a religious rite among Jews, where it is enjoined on male infants by the Bible, and, less strongly, for Muslims where it is seen as approved by the conduct of the Prophet Muhammad. Many, but by no means all, Christians circumcise male children for historic/cultural/religious reasons.

  • The practice called 'female circumcision' is probably better (and in the twenty-first century more commonly) referred to as 'female genital mutilation' (FGM), and does not seem to be advised in any of the Abrahamic holy books. It involves the cutting away of parts of the female genitals that have more function in, and certainly contribute more to, sexual pleasure in women.