As we all know, the word “Dick” used to be a respectable name, short for “Richard”. When did it come to be associated with a mans penis, or as an alternative term for “asshole”?
The OED reports 1891 as the first recorded use of “dick” to mean penis. The use of “Dick” as shorthand for Richard dates back to at least 1553.
I’ve never known dick and asshole to be literally interchangeable – but whatever you’re doing behind closed doors is your own business.
Lighter can take the “penis” context back to 1888, so that indicates that it was not uncommon in the very late 19th century.
The used of “dick” to mean “nothing” is attested to by 1915.
LIghter can cite “dick” in the sense of someone acting stupidly from 1966 in print.
All the Dicks, Rogers, Orels, Willys, and Peters are forming a support group, PROWD.
According to these people, the “meaning “penis” is attested from 1880s in British army slang”, which supports samclem.
As RM says, many male names have been dragged through the mud, probably originating from the habit people seem to have of naming their little friends. John and Thomas can join his list.
I’d imagine that people have been calling each other “cock”, “twat” etc. for as long as we’ve been using swear words generally. So, dick was probably used as an alternative to “asshole” (when addressing someone) about five minutes after it was first used to mean “penis”.
I had always thought that “dick” was a very disparaging name for Richard, the Lionhearted, male-fing organs and, perhaps, aholes.
I think that academics, such as the OED authors, have always been notoriously slow in recording slang.
This is terrible!
Gen. Richard Stoddert Ewell (CSA, 1861-1865), known as “Dick” among his friends and as “Old Bald Head” among his soldiers, is no longer sullied by the occasional conflation of the two nicknames.
And what about that tumescent white whale? We know that Melville certainly wasn’t above a priapic pun or two (the famous “archbishoprick” joke from chapter 95). What now must we make of 1851’s Moby Dick?
I hang my head in disappointment.
Melville certainly wasn’t making any puerile jokes at the expense of his notorious cetacean. Accoding to the Melville Society folks:
The bigger mystery, evidently, is why Melville changed it from Mocha to Moby.
What I don’t get is why “Johnson” all of a sudden seems to be the penile nickname du jour. Where did that some from? I’d never heard of it until 1999 when I saw the movie Austin Powers II: The Spy Who Shagged Me and it was used in that extended penis synonym sequence. At first I was like “Johnson? Huh?” and then started noticing others using it.
My father has used “johnson” in that particular idiom for as long as I can remember (early seventies). It may just be a regionalism (Northeastern Ohio) that has gained popularity.
Lighter can cite Johnson in print to mean penis from 1863.
He notes that it is used “now especially in Black English.”
He further that the term received "wide dispersion through the film Putney Swope.
And I agree with you, Jomo Mojo, it does seem to have been a revived term of the last 10 years or so.
Hey Houlihan, I see you’re from Northeast Ohio. So am I. Did you get your name from the old "Houlihan and Big Chuck show that used to be on back back in the 70s?
Heck and darn, I’m from friggin’ Cleveland, Ohio and never heard it!
I think that “Johnson” caught on as a term for “penis” with the “Big Johnson” line of t-shirts popular in the late 80s and early 90s. And Jomo, the Big Chuck of “Houlihan and Big Chuck” is the same as in “Big Chuck and Little John”, if that helps. I’m from Cleveland, too.
I watched Big Chuck and Houlihan back in the early 70s when I was a kid. Back then, Little John Rinaldi was a bit player in the supporting cast along with “Mushmouth” Mariano Pacelli and … *SOULMANNN. *
Over here we use most of the male names mentioned above as penis replacements. We also add “Mickey” to the list, one which I have only come across in Ireland. However, it is used humourously, and not in the insulting way people use “dick”
I suspect “dick” is popular because it is an explosive word, fitting the mood of the moment.
A curious fact - almost no one seems to call a person a “penis” in order to insult him. They only use the euphemistic male name, like “dick”.
I wonder why?
Nah, you (well, I) call people “cock”, “knob” and “prick”. Penis is a bit too clinical and intelligent to be calling someone when your annoyed with them.
Jomo While this is off topic a bit, we are trying to fight ignorance here.
So,… I moved to Akron, OH. in 1971. I immediately fiddled with my UHF antenna(hey, kids! Ask your parents what THAT was).
I got channel 61, every Sat. night and watched Houlihan(who later retired from tv to go convert people to his religion) and Big Chuck. You’re right about John Rinaldi being a bit player at that point.
They had a pizza-eating contest at one point in the program. Mushmouth Mariano Pachetti did indeed win the contest. Until he was beaten by a German Shepherd(Think dog, not sheep).
The shepherd reigned for a week or two until a fellow-coin dealer from Ohio(Boot is his name if you must know), beat the dog. If you ever saw my friend “Boot” you would understand. He could have eaten the dog and the pizza.
Samclem, what part of Akron do you live in? Me, I was born and raised in Akron, in Goodyear Heights. I moved from there in 1983.
BTW, a question from the old Hulihan and Big Chuck show. that they were unable to answer in “Cafe Society”. There was a skit on the show which featured Little John and Big Chuck as cavemen, and they were trying to get ahold of some rather large, Black cavewomen. All the time there was music playing, saying , “sock it to me, sock it to me”, and the Black cavewomen saying “I’ll sock it ya baby, I’ll sock it to ya”. Do you guys remember this? And do you know the name of the song?