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Home / SEX & RELATIONSHIPS / Sex Tips & Advice / The Fascinating History Of The Word Dildo

The Fascinating History Of The Word Dildo

Dildo is a funny word, isn’t it? Just say it out loud to yourself; “dildo”. See? Funny.

Now say it again, but in a Scottish accent. In public? Say it again, but this time do it really loud.

Hopefully it’s still funny. However if you’re here for the history of the word dildo, and judging by the fact you’ve clicked on a title promising just that, how about we all hop into the LELO Wayback Machine and find out together?

dildo

First, there are 2 main theories dating back to the times when people spoke Old English – an era when ‘old’ was spelled with an ‘e’ at the end, thus making it ‘Olde English’. As with most English words Olde and otherwise, ‘dildo’ is thought to be a bastardization of terms taken from other languages.

One would be Diletto, taken from the Italian which means ‘a woman’s delight’. This seems a very likely place where the word we know and love today got its start, however other contenders include the following:

Dill-doll: an Old English term taken from the old Norse word ‘dilla’, a verb meaning ‘to soothe’. Literally then a dill-doll would be a soothing doll, or in this case an effigy of a member.

Dil doul: a phrase that referred to a man’s penis as used in the 17th century ballad “The Maids Complaint for want of a Dil Doul”, which was likely a toe-tapper of a tune at the time.

Speaking of music, The Century Dictionary and Encyclopedia, which in its published year of 1897 was touted as the ‘work of universal reference in all departments of knowledge’ (making it definitive), dildo was at the time used as a place holder in music like a ‘la la la di da’ might.

The Choice of Valentine’s

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

Finally, one origin that is backed up by a number of sources places the etymology as beginning in the late 1500s, making an appearance in the Thomas Nash poem The Choice of Valentine’s, Nashe’s Dildo, or The Merrie Ballad of Nashe his Dildo. In this case, according to Wikipedia, the word dildo referred to ‘a phallus-shaped peg used to lock an oar in position on a dory (small boat). It would be inserted into a hole on the side of the boat, and is very similar in shape to the modern toy.’

Further proof of the word’s seafaring beginnings may also be lent credence by the fact that there exists a town in the maritime province of Canada called Dildo, with Dildo Island located nearby – however if you ask any of the locals, they’ll likely tell you the name comes from the small boat peg and not a source of delight for women since the dawn of man!

 

About Donna Turner

Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelance writer who lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. Her work has appeared in Psychology Today, Go! Magazine (Australia) and is regularly featured in the San Francisco Herald.

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