The love organ of many names

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British comedian Richard Herring is the author of a 2003 book entitled Talking Cock: A Celebration of Man and his Manhood, so he naturally seized upon the republicization opportunity provided by the recent story of the world's first successful penis transplant. He made it the topic of his weekly humor column in The Metro, the trashy free newspaper that I sometimes reluctantly peruse in my constant search for linguistic developments that might be of interest to Language Log readers.

In a bravura display of diversity of lexical choice, Herring contrived to use a different euphemism for the anatomical organ every time he could find an excuse for mentioning it, which, believe me, was a lot. And he left me pondering a serious lexicographical question: just how many euphemisms are there for the appendage in question?

[Unusually, this post is restricted to adult males. Please click "Read the rest of this entry" to confirm that you are male and over 18.]

OK, penis owners, let's get down to lexicographical business. Putting together all the terms Herring used in his article ("the pink lighthouse that wants to draw you onto its rocks", to name but one) with a few others that appear in the Amazon summary paragraph of his book or the See Inside This Book preview thereof, and adding yet others that I recall from high school, or from such sources as Beyond the Fringe sketches decades ago (recall Peter Cook in the persona of a judge describing a witness with great distaste as "a self-confessed player of the pink oboe"), I found it fairly easy to compile a list of 40 different euphemistic alternants of penis, varying slightly in their tastelessness. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

1 bald-headed mouse
2 Bob Johnson
3 chimney cleaner
4 cock
5 dick
6 ding-a-ling
7 dong
8 flesh torpedo
9 flute of love
10 Frankenwiener
11 fuckstick
12 gut stick
13 John Thomas
14 knob
15 Kojak's moneybox
16 little chap
17 love rocket
18 luncheon-meat truncheon
19 male member
20 manhood
21 nut cannon
22 one-eyed trouser snake
23 percy
24 pink lighthouse
25 pink oboe
26 porridge gun
27 prick
28 pud
29 pyjama python
30 schlong
31 schmuck
32 skin chimney
33 skin flute
34 tool
35 tummy banana
36 wang
37 whanger
38 willy
39 winkie
40 yoghurt gun

It looks to me like penis might be the most euphemized word in all of English. And it has crossed my mind to wonder whether adult male Language Log readers (for whom I leave comments open below)… might know of any more that have been attested (rather than just invented right now on the fly [no pun intended])?

[Update: You will discover from the comments below that my invitation to contribute further names elicits an utterly overwhelming response, a full two orders of magnitude larger than I had expected, plus several fairly serious studies of the topic. —GKP]


  1. S Frankel said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

    Is this a trick question? seems too easy

    Jolly Rodger
    love muscle
    (guided) missile

    there are more, but lunch is waiting

  2. Birion said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

    Hmm, trumpet-and-skittles, rattle-and-flute, twig-and-berries… The first two are from Going Postal, and the last seems like a Discworld euphemism too, but I can't at this moment find out where I got it from.

  3. Brian said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

    Beaver Cleaver

  4. Miles Archer said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 1:26 pm

    Mr. Happy (thank you Robin Williams)
    pink piccolo

    enought for now

  5. BackOfBeyond said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

    I always like the French term "stylo à yaourt" i.e. 'yogurt pen', a play on the ordinary word for ballpoint pen, i.e "stylo à bille".

  6. Max said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 1:38 pm

    See Python, Monty, 1983 "The Penis Song", in Chapman, Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones and Palin (Eds), The Meaning of Life.

  7. Arika Okrent said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 1:41 pm

    Not a penis owner, but I thought you might like to know there have been studies of this, at least on the American side.

    [Thank you, Arika. I am ignorant in this subfield, and feel even more ignorant given that you cite a study by Deborah Cameron, and I just spent the whole day with her today at a symposium at the University of Sussex! I did not know about this post of yours, or about the analysis of types of penis names that you briefly sample. —GKP]

  8. Craig said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 2:07 pm

    I'm sure there are a great many euphemisms for "vagina" as well… probably at least as many as for the male organ.

  9. Theophylact said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

    I'd call most of these synonyms dysphemisms.

    [Good point. Some purport to cloak the concept in words that sound purer, and others deliberately try to make it sound more impure. A mixture of euphemistic and dysphemistic terms. —GKP]

    I remember when "dork" would have been on the list as well.

  10. Catanea said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 2:24 pm

    As a married person, I claim possession of the organs of my (male) spouse. I think he claims mine, too.
    I suppose if I click on some other link, I'll find thousands; but I am surprised not to see "meat and two veg" which is very English, I think.

  11. Ross Presser said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

    A video listing a few dozen:

    @Birion: "twig and berries" appeared in the first Austin Powers movie; I doubt it was invented there though.

    I think in the routine where Robin Williams introduced "Mr. Happy" he had a dozen others as well, like "the heat seeking moisture missile".

  12. MsH said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

    I am unsure about the idea of a euphemism. For me "cock" is simply the English word for "penis", which is a medical term and deserves to be called a euphemism more than "cock" does. How do we tell which is which?

  13. Shadow-Slider said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 3:32 pm

    A cock is a male chicken or rooster or cockerel like in peacock vs. peahen.
    A male bird, especially a domestic fowl.
    1. A male chicken or other gallinaceous bird.
    2. A male pigeon.

  14. Jonathon Green said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 3:36 pm

    If I remember correctly Mr Herring was put in touch with me by a mutual friend and requested a list of penis terms. I duly opened the files though I didn't follow up on the use he made of the material. As to whether penis is the most euphemised term, it pretty much ties with vagina at c.1400. Sexual intercourse tops them at 1750. For all these and more might I recommend my Timelines of Slang on tumblr

    [Thank you Jonathan. Yes, I should have remembered that I had heard of your site somewhere before. The very thing I was expecting Language Log readers to point to. A link for those readers who haven't already found it:
    I am not by any means a scholar of slang; I figured that probably readers could come up with twice as many terms as I cited, maybe more; but not 1400. Amazing. —GKP]

  15. Rb3 said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

    I'm pretty sure that "drunk" has more euphemisms than "penis".

    That said, Robin Williams gave us the delightful "TONTOR".

  16. Rubrick said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

    Anyone who wants a good, on-topic childish giggle should watch this highlight from the second Austin Powers film:

  17. tk said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 5:06 pm

    Wow. So many words, it must be important in the culture.
    [I kept waiting for a "50 words for snow"-esque disclaimer.]

  18. Sili said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

    Plain "gun" as in "This is my rifle, this is my gun" and so on.

  19. Ari Corcoran said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 7:37 pm

    Have always liked the Barry Humphrey's coining of "shaking hands with my wife's best friend"

  20. rstueven said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 7:41 pm

    Bloodhound Gang released their song "Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo" in 2005. It's essentially a list of relevant terms.

  21. TR said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 7:57 pm

    Don't forget "manservant", as in this classic Blackadder scene.

  22. Jim Breen said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 8:12 pm

    In my wife's family they used the term "tail", so we did too.

    Recently I was bathing my grandsons and told one to be sure to dry his
    tail. He laughed uproariously. "Don't be silly, papa, it's not a tail!". "What is it then?"
    "It's a WILLY!".

    So now I know.

  23. Chris C. said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 9:52 pm

    We can't forget the contribution of that linguistic tour-de-force, the classic film Porky's: Tallywhacker.

  24. Bloix said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 10:13 pm

    "The pompatus of love."

  25. Wulf Losee said,

    June 10, 2016 @ 10:38 pm

    one-eyed python of love

  26. Aru Hito said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 1:55 am

    Don't forget the child's word "peepee" (or is it "pee pee"?)

    Note to Shadow-Slider: The word for "cock" (the male chicken) is also used in Indonesian. It's manok, which means "cock" in both senses of the word. We all think pretty much alike, I guess!

  27. Francis Boyle said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 2:38 am

    Was 'spam javelin' eaten by the spam filter?

  28. Moonfriend said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 2:53 am

    Blue-veined custard chucker.

    There are also other terms used in context, like 'shaking hands with the unemployed' (masturbating) or 'draining the dragon' (urinating).

  29. Fcb said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 3:00 am

    As Sir Thomas More did point out, "a boy without a winkle is a girl."

  30. Riikka said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 4:22 am

    My favourite term is what Kevin Bridges explains himself having in the The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2014, 23:50 after the start. I'm not totally sure how to spell any of the words they discuss..

  31. Keith said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 4:38 am

    Strictly speaking, such terms as "twig and berries" and "meat and two veg" do not signify the penis, but the whole of the male genitalia, i.e. penis and testicles.

    Here are three more for the list.
    Disco stick

  32. AKMA said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 5:51 am

    I always understood the Ben Folds song "Philosophy" as referring to his genitalia:

    "You wer laughing at my helmet hat
    Laughing at my torch…"

  33. Gav said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 8:07 am

    A sea captain during the Dutch wars was hit by a cannon ball, which took off his arm close to the shoulder. He was heard to remark, in so many words, that he'd now been granted his wish for a pintle as long as his arm.

  34. Jeff B. said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 9:13 am

    I'm shocked nobody has said "third leg" yet.

  35. Jeff B. said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 9:16 am

    And wing-wang.

  36. Jeff B. said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 9:17 am

    Or, even more fundamental, wiener.

  37. RachelP said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 9:47 am

    Surely we mustn't forget the Monty Python classic 'Penis Song' from 'The Meaning of Life'. It's pretty much just a list of euphemisms, some of which haven't been mentioned yet.

  38. Robert Coren said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 9:53 am

    @Jim Breen: I wonder if your wife's family's use of "tail" was influenced by the German "Schwanz", which is both the regular word for tail and a slang term for the penis.

  39. Jerry Friedman said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 10:34 am

    Jim Breen and Robert Coren: In fact, pēnis meant "tail" as well as "the male genital organ" in classical Latin, says the OED.

  40. Jerry Friedman said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 10:44 am

    A few more that haven't been mentioned and I think aren't in Jonathon Green's collection (because they're not exactly slang):

    loving boy, little Robin ("The Lullaby of a Lover" by George Gascoigne, 1535–1578 )

    love-pump (Spinal Tap)

    Then there are all the variations of "I've got a little Indian in me… Would you like a little Indian in you?" Which reminds me of Hawk's "African beef injections" and Spenser's "Irish beef injections" in one of Robert B. Parker's detective novels.

  41. Rodger C said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 11:35 am

    @Chris C.: "Tallywhacker" is a very old Southern word.

    George Carlin used to end his performances with a list of a hundred synonyms for "penis," of which the one that got the most laughs (on the occasion in 1978 when I heard him) was "one-eyed wonder worm."

  42. wallyw said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 1:20 pm

    I keep on wanting to relate this to the Eskimo words for snow meme. But then I come to that as I understand it the words for snow are for different types or states of snow that are recognized. The words here all seem to be just synonyms. As a proud owner I have observed a variety of states of my Pride (e.g. when in a cold wet swim suit) but I can think of only a couple of terms that differentiate, and only for a few states and not much for possible types. So does anyone use any of these terms to distinguish varieties of types or states?

  43. Zizoz said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

    WTF Fanfiction has a long list of terms collected from fanfiction here:

  44. pep said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 4:20 pm

    as the owner of a small penis, a very brief comment:
    among Valencian women there´s this popular saying: "per què en diuen penes en les alegries que donen?" (why do they call it penes -wich also means pain, sadness- when they give us such joy?)

  45. stephen said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 4:26 pm

    Jimmy (as in Jimmy Hat), and, more expansively, Jimbrowski. Or even, if I remember correctly, Dr James K Browski (whom I've been known to ask hotels to page when I'm sufficiently bored).

    Artist: De La Soul
    Album: 3 Feet High and Rising
    Track: Buddy
    Released: 1989
    "For the lap, Jimbrowski must wear a cap, just in case the young girl likes to clap"

  46. Paul said,

    June 11, 2016 @ 11:12 pm

    If I might draw your attention to this silly little poem from the great great Robert Kroetsch:

  47. postageincluded said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 12:38 am

    "Wedding tackle" probably counts as a dysphemism, but shortened to just "tackle" it's probably a euphemism.

    A lot of penis vocabulary is descriptive rather than just uu/dysphemistic – a "chod" is a different thing to a "winkle".

  48. John said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 1:38 am

    Did you consult the latest edition of Roger's Profanisaurus?

  49. Graeme said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 5:33 am

    John, you beat me to it. 'Viz Comic'. Such a great name for such a linguistic mine.

  50. Graeme said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 6:12 am

    As far as euphemisms go, the kindest I've heard is "precious places". Which my mother taught my brother and me; but not my sisters. Mum was from German speaking immigrants. My mother and aunts/uncles are long dead. Mum was not given to neologism.

    I've sought in vain for an etymology or for other uses. One Korean blogger (for her vagina), one academic reference in a nursing journal.

    Any suggestions, gratefully welcomed (

  51. Paul Kay said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

    You're probably not going to believe this but I swear it's true. Some decades ago at the Annual Meetings of the American Anthropological Association, in a plenary session about sex and culture, or something like that, one of the speakers — who will remain nameless to protect the guilty — uttered a sentence very like, "The Tahitian language has twelve names for the mail sexual organ, while English has only one."

  52. Paul Kay said,

    June 12, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

    Oh, wow, mail -> male

  53. Average joe said,

    June 13, 2016 @ 7:30 am

    "Anaconda" is a popular song with Nikki Minaj. "My Anaconda," etc

  54. Terry Hunt said,

    June 13, 2016 @ 10:33 am

    Manfully resisting the urge to delve deeper during working hours, I will proffer the single addition "creamstick". This may be authentic Victorian slang, and was employed as such in an episode of The Sandman graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, whose research is usually exemplary.
    (In the novel, it was used by a prostitute propositioning a potential customer.)

  55. Lee said,

    June 13, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

    And that's not counting the euphemisms for masturbation:

    *spanking the monkey
    *choking the bishop
    *stroking the salami

    Any others?

  56. K. Chang said,

    June 14, 2016 @ 3:58 am

    Cantonese seems to have more than a few euphemisms for the organ, esp. in the movies back in the 80's and 90's. 炮 was an often used one. Technically "cannon", it also refers to pistol or just plain 'gun'. OTOH, the most oblique reference is probably 那話兒

  57. January First-of-May said,

    June 14, 2016 @ 8:54 am

    It is surprising how many meanings – "penis" among them – are shared between Russian член and English member.

  58. thunk said,

    June 15, 2016 @ 9:40 pm

    And, as several other commenters will know, the xkcd Time thread offers "someone's 100th post" among its many neologisms.

    (And of course, Geoffrey, not all penises are attached to men. Or vice versa.)

  59. jaap said,

    June 16, 2016 @ 8:27 am

    Also "pork sausage" (BrE obviously). This has the companion term "porking" for intercourse.

  60. Alex R said,

    June 16, 2016 @ 10:59 am

    Why do you think The Sex Pistols called themselves that?

  61. January First-of-May said,

    June 16, 2016 @ 2:42 pm

    Incidentally, the reference to WTF Fanfiction reminded me of a fic (sadly can't recall the title) where the classic name "crumple-horned snorcack" was explained as a reference to a penis (a flaccid one, IIRC).
    If not for my headcanon having long since been that a crumple-horned snorcack is an actual animal that actually existed, at least in the Potterverse (and might or might not be an animal known to Muggles under another name), I would have immediately accepted that explanation as headcanon. It made way too much sense.

  62. wtsparrow said,

    June 16, 2016 @ 9:18 pm

    After asking if she has ever seen a man, Buddy Willard drops his pants and undies. "Then he just stood there in front of me and I kept staring at him. The only thing I could think of was turkey neck and turkey gizzards and I felt very depressed." — Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar.

    The Urban Dictionary has several entries about "turkey neck," the first being "Turkey neck and dumplings … an abstract explanation for a penis and testicles."

  63. /df said,

    June 20, 2016 @ 5:42 pm

    Peter Cook 's "player of the pink oboe" was a backstage contribution from Billy Connolly when Cook was writing his wonderful parody of the Thorpe trial summing-up for an Amnesty International "Secret Policeman's Ball" benefit show, some 20 years after Beyond the Fringe (not that BtF sketches were omitted from the show).

    Perhaps a Glaswegian coinage?

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