The laryngeal prominence
—commonly known as the Adam's Apple
—is a feature of the human neck
The neck is the part of the body, on many terrestrial or secondarily aquatic vertebrates, that distinguishes the head from the torso or trunk. The adjective signifying "of the neck" is cervical .-Boner anatomy: The cervical spine:The cervical portion of the human spine comprises seven boney...
. This lump, or protrusion, is formed by the angle of the thyroid cartilage
The thyroid cartilage is the largest of the nine cartilages that make up the laryngeal skeleton, the cartilage structure in and around the trachea that contains the larynx....
surrounding the larynx
The larynx , commonly called the voice box, is an organ in the neck of amphibians, reptiles and mammals involved in breathing, sound production, and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. It manipulates pitch and volume...
. The term "Adam's Apple" is derived from the forbidden fruit in the Biblical account of the lives of Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...
(although the name of the fruit is not mentioned in the Genesis) and refers to the prominence of the lump in males (hence, Adam) more than females.
The laryngeal prominence is usually more prominent in adult men than in women or prepubescent children. The growth of the larynx itself, and dropping of the vocal box during puberty is responsible for the vocal instability in teenage boys. The laryngeal prominence is merely the protrusion one sees of the thyroid cartilage making up the body of the larynx. The laryngeal prominence is usually more prominent in adult males because the thyroid cartilage elongates during puberty as the voice box becomes lodged in the throat, protruding out the front of the neck more noticeably. The result is that the two laminae (thin cartilage) of the thyroid cartilage that form the protrusion meet at an average angle of 90° in males, and 120° in females, so there is less cartilage protruding out in females.
Laryngeal prominence is commonly considered a male secondary sex characteristic
Secondary sex characteristics are features that distinguish the two sexes of a species, but that are not directly part of the reproductive system. They are believed to be the product of sexual selection for traits which give an individual an advantage over its rivals in courtship and aggressive...
, but women can also develop a masculine laryngeal prominence.
Cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of a laryngeal prominence is called chondrolaryngoplasty
Chondrolaryngoplasty is a surgical procedure in which the thyroid cartilage is reduced in size by shaving down the cartilage through an incision in the throat, generally to aid trans women in achieving a passable female appearance, and occasionally on cisgender men and women who are uncomfortable...
(thyroid chondroplasty). This surgery may change the patient's voice and cause permanent damage, as well as leave a visible scar. Chondrolaryngoplasty may be performed in many types of gender reassignment surgery.