What are Adam’s apples?

These permanent lumps in our throats contain a crucial organ

(Image credit: BIT0865/ Wikimedia Commons)

Some people have noticeable bumps sticking out from the front of their throats, usually men. While everybody has one, not all can be seen. Apart from dancing along the neck as you speak, what is the point of this feature?

The Adam’s apple, named because it looks like a piece of food stuck in the throat, starts to emerge during puberty. The lump in the neck that develops is cartilage under the skin, responsible for protecting our voice box, known as the larynx. The bigger the voice box is, the larger the protective covering needs to be.

Because an Adam’s apple encases the vocal cords, they can be seen moving up and down in time with speech. When it lifts in the neck, this is a sign that the cartilage is closing the throat. These movements can also be observed when swallowing, or even as a tell-tale sign of feeling nervous.

Just for men?

A common misconception is that only men have Adam’s apples, but they are actually a part of every person’s anatomy. This being said, in most instances it is a more prominent feature in men. The reason is to do with the voice of the person. Grown men have often developed deeper voices, which are a product of larger voice boxes. Due to their larynx’s larger size, the Adam’s apple covering it sticks out further. It is important to realise it is normal for men and women’s voice boxes to vary. Many women have pronounced Adam’s apples and many men have them hidden away.


For more science and technology articles, pick up the latest copy of How It Works from all good retailers or from our website now. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today!