Peristalsis is when certain muscles in the body automatically contract and relax. Humans undergo peristalsis when they digest food.
Many different animals use peristalsis, mostly in the process of digestion, as food and liquid is pushed forward through their intestines. Earthworms use peristalsis to move across or through the ground. Peristalsis is most often used in the context of biology classes or medical terminology, and the word is Modern Latin. The Greek root is peristaltikos, "contracting around," which combines peri, "around," and stalsis, "checking or constriction."