What's in a Name? The Etymology of Penis Slang Throughout History
Penis—the beloved member of the male genetalia. I would bet that penis has more nicknames than any other object in the world. For ages, we've applied just about every conceivable euphemism to the word: animals, weapons, human names, metaphorical words, pet names, shapes, functions—the list goes on. Adopted from Latin in 1676, penis has endured the test of time as the ultimate appellation, but let's take a look at the etymology of the heat-seeking moisture missile's vulgar past.
Tarse | taːs · 11th century, Medieval England
Evolving from the Proto-Germanic tersaz, the oldest recorded word for penis in English is tarse. Though originally documented in a book about treating warts, tarse became a euphemism for male genitalia. Not much is known about how tarse came to mean penis, but it disappeared from English documents and vocabulary by the sixteenth century.
Cock | käk · late 16th century, Northern US and England
While tarse was hearing its final days, Anglo-Saxon men became known as pintle and/or pillicock men. Pillicock was a synonym for penis until it became quite the vulgar word. Some say it was cockney rhyming slang that turned pillicock into cock, yet some are certain we borrowed cock from the French (who derived it from the Latin coccus). Since the 9th century, a male domestic fowl has been identified as a cock a.k.a a rooster. When a cock (the rooster) grows excited or aggressive, all the little parts of his head and neck swell up with blood, you know, like a penis does. Like many slang names of the penis, we're sure it is a combination of many things.
Johnson | JAHN-suhn · mid-nineteenth century
In 1863, Walter Cheadle documented his travels across Canada. His journal contains the first recorded use of Johnson in reference to a penis. During this time, it was common for given names and surnames to be bestowed on the penis.
Dick | dik · 1891
Though originally derived from the name Richard, dick was a common term for fellow in the mid sixteenth century. As previously stated, many given names were applied to slang penis terminology due to the fact that they were, "considered typically male" (Morton, 2003). Roger was the first given name to be handed to the penis, Thomas followed suit in 1811, and a plethora of other names landed in the register (see Johnson above) before dick entered in 1891.
Willy | wil-ee · 1905
Our beloved Clone-A-Willy. As it turns out, willy (originally Willie) came in the same fashion as the other given/surnames. It rode the wave, coming out in the early twentieth century.
Schlong | SHlôNG · 1930s
Yiddish in origin, Schlong (originally shlang) was used to denote a snake. Synonyms for snake are often found in penis slang.
One-eyed snake | wən-īd snāk · twentieth century
Oh! Another reference to a snake? One-eyed snake, also known as a one-eyed trouser snake, is pretty obvious in how it became a slang word for penis: the urinary meatus appears like an eye, while the shaft is snake-like. Some say this term came about from the Australian's in 1930, while other sources say it didn't become part of our vocabulary until 1971, with no reference to location.
Pork sword | pôrk sôrd · mid twentieth century
The tendency to use weapons and meat in reference to a man's junk has been happening for centuries. Some clever person decided to unite them as one bringing us pork sword. Again, the argument of the recorded year is in debate, sometime in the 1940s, or 1966.
Throbbing python of love | THräbiNG pīˌTHän əv ləv · 1983 in the United State
In 1983, Robin Williams (RIP) performed a comedy skit called the "Throbbing Python of Love." How he came up with the name is unclear, but it is possibly owed to his relationship with the Monty Python clan, who he loved and admired deeply. Or, it's just that, again, snakes=penis.
Fun fact: The Throbbing Python of Love was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording, but lost to Eddie Murphy.
**Dates/locations: The dates are around when the word was used as a synonym for penis, not the actual origin of the word. The countries noted are where use and origin of the word are mostly certain.
**Sources: The following are the main sources I used, but there are a bunch of dictionaries I can site if you insist.
Cheadle, Walter B. "Page 95." Cheadle's Journal of Trip across Canada, 1862-1863. TouchWood Editions ed. Rutland, VT: C.E. Tuttle, 1971. N. pag. Google Books. Web.
Green, Jonathon. Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. London: Orion Group, 2005.Google Books. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.
Hickman, Tom. God's Doodle: The Life and times of the Penis. Berkeley: Soft Skull, n.d. Google Books. 2013. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.
Morton, Mark Steven. "Chapter 8." The Lover's Tongue: A Merry Romp Through the Language of Love and Sex. Toronto: Insomniac, 2003. N. pag. Print.