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   The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.  2000.
 
testis
 
SYLLABICATION:tes·tis
PRONUNCIATION:  tsts
NOUN:Inflected forms: pl. tes·tes (-tz)
1. The reproductive gland in a male vertebrate, the source of spermatozoa and the androgens, normally occurring paired in an external scrotum in humans and certain other mammals. 2. An analogous gland in an invertebrate animal, such as a hydra or a mollusk.
ETYMOLOGY:Latin, witness, testis. See testify.
WORD HISTORY: The resemblance between testimony, testify, testis, and testicle shows an etymological relationship, but linguists are not agreed on precisely how English testis came to have its current meaning. The Latin testis originally meant “witness,” and etymologically means “third (person) standing by”: the te– part comes from an older tri–, a combining form of the word for “three,” and –stis is a noun derived from the Indo-European root st- meaning “stand.” How this also came to refer to the body part(s) is disputed. An old theory has it that the Romans placed their right hands on their testicles and swore by them before giving testimony in court. Another theory says that the sense of testicle in Latin testis is due to a calque, or loan translation, from Greek. The Greek noun parastats means “defender (in law), supporter” (para– “by, alongside,” as in paramilitary and –stats from histanai, “to stand”). In the dual number, used in many languages for naturally occurring, contrasting, or complementary pairs such as hands, eyes, and ears, parastats had the technical medical sense “testicles,” that is “two glands side by side.” The Romans simply took this sense of parastats and added it to testis, the Latin word for legal supporter, witness.
 
 
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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