sex education

Oyster Catchers and Beef Bugles: All the Ways to Say Vagina and Penis Through the Ages

We’ve learned some exciting new vagina-related terms over this long summer of slutbags and slampieces. We may never think of our lady bits and vajayjays the same way again. And in fact, we may never use the terms lady bits or vajayjay again — not now that Laughing Squid has posted an interactive time line (by lexicographer Jonathon Green) that charts all the words used for vaginas and penises since 1250.

The earliest slang term for a vagina, recorded in 1250, was actually cunt. (You’d think it would have stopped being taboo by now.) Then language patterns embraced centuries of gibberish words — like twit-twot, whib-bob, wem, and nonny nonny — to refer to female genitalia. Around the late 1800s, the euphemisms became both poetic and somewhat befuddling: florid terms like aphrodisiacal tennis court (1865) Mrs Fubbs’ Parlour (1823) and the agreeable rut of life (1890) appear in Victorian sexts. In the modern day, we see pootenanny and bacon sandwich.

Terms for penises are kind of lackluster, surprisingly. The first term for testicles, ballocks, emerged in 1369; and the first for  penis, pin, around 1490. Boring. Then there were some cleverly favorable phrases like whore pipe and shaft of delight. In the 1890s, the invention of the skyscraper finally allowed for some self-congratulatory slang, like skyscraper.  Then, in the seventies, there was a veritable explosion of slang for penises, erections, and testicles! While there were no terms so colorful as whib-bob, this decade the appears to be the long-awaited heyday of penis slang.

For the record, history shows that the words for vagina are far more plentiful and colorful, which probably indicates that society has been uncomfortable saying vagina for centuries. Which is a shame, but fortunately none of our nicknames are as horrible as the most recent entry for penis slang: the yoghurt-spitting sausage.

All the Ways to Say Vagina and Penis