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Definition: indecent, obscene.

Pronunciation: it-y-FA-lic


The original term derives from the Greek ithyphallos (Iithys for ‘straight’ and phallos for ‘penis’)- a phallus carried in ancient Bacchus festivals. Ithyphallos, later on, came to represent the specific meter in poetry to which the phallus was carried during the festivals. Due to the gross meaning of a publically carried erected phallus- the word came to represent the “indecent” adjective in 1795.

Why this word?

This is a great word because it internally represents a contradiction- the phalluses carried during the Bacchus festivals were there to signify dignity and strength, continuation and innovation in the most natural way. It was only 200 years later on when the relatively prude Victorians introduced the word to the English language and signified it as indecent and obscene.

How to use the word ithyphallic in a sentence?

You can use ithyphallic to replace the regular obscene, but personally, I prefer using this word in the context of men’s inappropriate behavior, for the very physical nature of this word.

“His behavior is completely ithyphallic- he cannot look in any direction either than my breasts!”


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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