The clitoris is a smooth round knob of tissue located just above the urethra at the opening of the vagina and is the major site of female sexual stimulation. The word clitoris comes from the Greek kleitoris, meaning "little hill" or "slope," or possibly klei-eo, meaning "to shut." It is sometimes referred to as "clit" in slang, a term that is also used derogatorily to describe a contemptible female. The French call the clitoris a bijou, meaning "jewel," the Russians call it a pokhotnic, meaning "lust," and the Tuamotuan people of Polynesia have at least ten different words for this sexual organ.
PHYSIOLOGY OF THE CLITORIS
Embryologically, the clitoris derives from the same tissue as the penis. The presence of the male hormone testosterone during early fetal development causes this tissue to differentiate into a penis, and the absence of the hormone causes the tissue to develop into a clitoris. Though both organs function to transmit and receive sexual sensation, the penis also contains the urethra, which provides the means for expelling sperm and urine from the body. As the sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson (1966) point out, the clitoris's only known function is to give sexual pleasure to the woman.
Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)
Saylor, Diane Sue. "Clitoris." Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Ed. Fedwa Malti-Douglas. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 299-301. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Aug. 2012.