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Late 18th-century Dutch painting of a baby asleep in its mother's lap

A lap is a surface (usually horizontal) created between the knee and hips of a biped when it is in a seated or lying down position. The lap of a parent or loved one is seen as a physically and psychologically comfortable place for a child to sit.[1][2] In countries where Christmas is celebrated, it has been a tradition for children to sit on the lap of a person dressed as Santa Claus to tell Santa what they want for Christmas, and have their picture taken, but this practice has since been questioned in some of these countries, where this sort of contact between children and unfamiliar adults raises concerns.[3]

Among adults, a person sitting on the lap of another usually indicates an intimate or romantic relationship between the two; this is a factor in the erotic activity in strip clubs known as a lap dance, where one person straddles the lap of the other and gyrates their lower extremities in a provocative manner.[4]

The lap can be a useful surface for carrying out tasks when a table is not available.[5] The laptop computer was so named because it was seen as being able to be used on the user's lap,[6] but a study by State University of New York researchers found that heat generated from laptops can increase the temperature of the lap of male users when balancing the computer on their lap, potentially putting sperm count at risk. The study, which included roughly two dozen men between the ages of 21 and 35, found that the sitting position required to balance a laptop can increase scrotum temperature by as much as 2.1 °C (4 °F).[7] A later 2010 study of 29 males published in Fertility and Sterility found that men who kept their laptops on their laps experienced scrotal hyperthermia (overheating) in which their scrotal temperatures increased by up to 2.0 °C (4 °F). The resulting heat increase, which could not be offset by a laptop cushion, may increase male infertility.[8][9][10][11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sent Before My Time: A Child Psychotherapist's View of Life on a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, by Margaret Cohen, 2003, page 108.
  2. ^ Parenting Other People's Children: Understanding and Repairing Reactive Attachment Disorder, by John L. Stoller, 2006, page 214.
  3. ^ "A Visit from St. Nick". Archived from the original on 24 December 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  4. ^ Colosi, Rebecca (2017). Dirty Dancing: An Ethnography of Lap Dancing. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1351569406. Archived from the original on 2017-11-13.
  5. ^ The American Missionary - Volumes 22-24, 1868, page 57: "In the absence of chairs, the floor, (my present location) is not a very bad seat, and one can use their lap for a table if necessary."
  6. ^ The Electrified Mind: Development, Psychopathology, and Treatment in the Era of Cell Phones and the Internet, by Salman Akhtar, 2012, page 9.
  7. ^ Sheynkin, Y.; Jung M; Yoo P;Schulsinger D; Komaroff E (9 December 2004). "Increase in scrotal temperature in laptop computer users". Human Reproduction. Epub. 20 (2): 452–5. doi:10.1093/humrep/deh616. PMID 15591087.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Sheynkin, Yefim; Yefim Sheynkin, Robert Welliver, Andrew Winer, Farshid Hajimirzaee, Hongshik Ahn, Kyewon Lee (8 November 2010). "Protection from scrotal hyperthermia in laptop computer users". Fertility and Sterility. 95 (2): 647–651. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2010.10.013. PMID 21055743.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Yin, Sara (8 November 2010). "Study: Laptop Pads Don't Prevent Male Infertility". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  10. ^ "Men, your laptop may be roasting your testicles". The Independent. 8 November 2010. Archived from the original on 11 November 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  11. ^ Caulfield, Philip (7 November 2010). "Study finds men who place laptop computer on lap put testicles at risk of overheating, infertility". Daily News. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  12. ^ Joelving, Frederik (8 November 2010). "Is your laptop cooking your testicles?". Reuters. Archived from the original on 10 November 2010. Retrieved 8 November 2010.