Masturbation refers to sexual stimulation, especially of one’s own genitals (self masturbation), often to the point of orgasm. The stimulation can be performed manually, by other types of bodily contact (short of sexual intercourse), by use of objects or tools, or by some combination of these methods. Masturbation is a common form of autoeroticism, and the two words are often used as synonyms, although masturbation with a partner (mutual masturbation) is also common. Animal masturbation has been observed in many species, both in the wild and in captivity.
The word masturbation is believed to derive from either the Greek word mezea (μεζεα, “penises”) or the Latin manus (“hand”) and the Latin turbare (“to disturb”). A competing etymology based on the Latin manu stuprare (“to defile with the hand”) is said by the Oxford English Dictionary to be an “old conjecture”.
While “masturbation” is the medical term for this practice, many other terms and expressions are in common use. In the vernacular, terms such as “pleasuring oneself”, “wanking” and “jerking off” are common.