You and me [sic] may be nothing but mammals, but we are mammals that talk about sex a lot more than our cousins on the Discovery Channel. Now lexicographer Jonathon Green has created two interactive timelines tracing slang words for male and female genitalia through history. He’s compiled words for the penis and its satellite parts, going back to 1360, and also words for the mons pubis, going back to 1230.*
Some fun facts: The earliest recorded name for the vagina—unprintable here—is still with us today. Testicles (“ballocks,” in Renaissance parlance) received an epithet before the male member (“pin,” 1460), while the most recent addition to the penis thesaurus is “bald-headed mouse” (2012). Anyway, we have selected a few terms from each infographic to illustrate some relevant aesthetic categories in the art of describing sexual anatomy, which is a very important historical-lexical-anthropological pursuit (teehee, “periwinkle”). Behold.
VARIETIES OF TERMS FOR MALE GENITALIA
The Physically Descriptive
For penises: worm, iron, rudder, pike, maypole, spicket, noodle, white staff, cucumber, standing wire.
For testicles: pebbles, plums, bullets, nuggins, nutmegs, tackle, eggs, jewels, agates, berries.
The Functionally Descriptive
For penises: prod, pissing place, shove devil, rump splitter, holy poker.
For testicles: glands?
The Whimsical and Poetic
For penises: the silent flute, the gospel pipe, the glister pipe, Mr. Peasbey.
For testicles: whirligigs, tarriwags, Salda crackers.
For penises: kidney wiper, liver disturber, cunt plugger, egg white cannon, yogurt spitting sausage.
For testicles: basket of meat.
The Baffling (and vaguely culinary)
For penises: Plum tree shaker, okra and prunes, enchilada, cookie.
For testicles: basket of meat.
For both: Thingamabob, thingummy.
For penises: brute, goober, stuffed eelskin.
For testicles: cullions (“vile fellows”).
For penises: shaft of delight, staff of life, candy cane, champion.
For testicles: diamonds, charms, as-good-as-ever-twanged.
VARIETIES OF TERMS FOR FEMALE GENITALIA
Fountain of love, Venus’ cradle, treasure, Cupid’s warehouse, garden of delight, seat of love, pleasure place, love’s cabinet, nature’s treasury, harbor of hope, venerable monosyllable.
Spitfire, trench, snatch blade, nethermouth, mark of the beast, jack nasty face.
Cleft, groove, crevice, unit.
Best in Christendom, aphrodisiacal tennis court, Whitechapel portion, bit of skate, the batcave, the duckpond.
The Not-So-Clever but Nice Try!
Mouth-that-cannot-bite, breakfast of champions.
Bower of Bliss.
The “You Had to Be There”
Hans Carvel’s ring, Buckinger’s boot, Mrs. Fubbs’ parlor, James Hunt.
Golden donut, muffin, hairy donut, ho-cake
The Anatomically Incorrect
Our doctor’s appointments have the potential to get a lot more interesting now. So too, our insults (“Curse you, blue-venied trouser serpent! Camel manhunt!”) and terms of endearment (“You fleecy purr-tongued oracle, you”). Not to mention that we can class up the genre of “sexting” by referring to it as nether eye photography, and porn as the cinema of the red-capped majesty. Just don’t ever put me and “velvet-lined meat grinder” in the same sentence. That would be a dingwallace move.
Correction, August 18, 2013: This post originally misspelled Jonathon Green’s first name.