Morning erections

ADS-L was enlivened yesterday by this piece of news from Utah, reported in many publications, here reproduced by the San Jose Mercury-News from a Cimaron Neugebauer article in the Salt Lake Tribune on the 4th:

‘Morning Glory Road’ deemed too lewd for Utah neighborhood

Lehi, Utah — A technology company has successfully petitioned the Lehi City Council to change the name of Morning Glory Road, after arguing that the term has lewd connotations that could be bad for business.

Xactware Solutions Inc., which is expanding its business into Lehi’s Traverse Mountain area, made a request last month to change the name of the road to Morning Vista Road.

While morning glory is the name of a flowering plant, a company representative pointed out to city officials that it is also used as a slang term for a man’s erection. He argued that the sexual definition of the word could become too prominent in the minds of consumers who see Xactware’s Morning Glory Road address.

“We never knew about the ulterior definitions until that came to light a little while ago,” said Jonathan Gardner, project director of Traverse Mountain Commercial Venture, about 20 miles south of Salt Lake City.

A good bit of head-scratching ensued about the sexual sense of morning glory ‘morning wood, morning erection’, which was unfamiliar to (apparently) everyone on the list, but turns out to have an existence beyond places like Urban Dictionary — although it seems to be recent and looks like a euphemism (using an existing innocuous expression with morning as its first element) that has almost immediately become contaminated by the sense of the expression it was designed to avoid, as is the unfortunate fate of so many euphemisms.

Two citations on the hoof, both from sexual advice sites. First, from a UK site giving women advice about men and their sexuality, in outline form:

The penis: everything you need to know

HIS ERECTION: During the Night; Morning Glory; During the Day; The Mechanics Behind the Erection

Morning Glory: [Like night-time erections:] This is also a reflex. A morning erection is a left-over night-time erection and not due to sexual desire, or even needing to urinate.

Some men like them, as it means that they are ready for sex as soon as they wake up!

Then from an apparently US-based site offering advice to men:

Morning Sex

One of the many differences between the sexuality of men and women is that men tend to enjoy morning sex, while women mostly prefer to keep bedroom activity reserved for nighttime. This probably has a lot to do with what is referred to as nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT), which causes a man without erectile dysfunction to have three to five erections as he sleeps. NPT is more commonly referred to as “morning wood” or “morning glory.” Whatever you call it, waking up with an erection is as good a reason as any to initiate a little early action. Unfortunately, your girl may not be in the mood the minute she opens her eyes, but if you approach it properly she will very quickly be just as into morning sex as you are.

(Detailed instructions follow.)

The specialization of erection to ‘penile erection’ is attested in the OED from roughly 1600 on; the general subsense (covering more than penile erections) is given there as:

Physiol. The action of making rigid any bodily organ containing erectile tissue; the condition of being so erected; also, an instance of the same.

In any case, the existence of the ‘penile erection’ sense quickly contaminated other, non-sexual, uses of the word, so that you have to be careful about how you use the word, lest you elicit titters from adults and guffaws from 13-year-old boys.

Moving on to morning wood, this is non-euphemistic slang, discussed in these precincts back in January of 2011:

A few notes on morning wood ‘erection upon awakening’, on my X blog because of the accompanying image: here. [excerpt from my X blog follows:]

Wood in morning wood is a mass noun, as in get/pop (some) morning wood ‘get an erection upon awakening’ and the like. (There’s even wax the morning wood ‘masturbate upon awakening’.) Most slang terms for ‘erect penis’ are count nouns, as is the model erection: hard(-)on, woody, boner, chubby, and so on, so it’s have a hardon/woody/boner/chubby etc. ‘have an erect penis’ and get/pop a hardon/woody/boner/chubby etc. ‘become erect’. (Note the variety of images in these count nouns, the -y and -er in the playful derivatives woody and boner, and the nouning of the adjective chubby.)

And then in December of that year, looking at a Multiverse cartoon with sporting huge ironic wood:

Not just the idiomatic sport wood, not just the idiom with a meta-modifier (huge ironic) added to the head noun wood, but also the figurative use of the idiom to mean not ‘display an erection’ but ‘become extremely excited’, not in a sexual sense.

Sport wood combines two specialized uses, of sport and of wood. [details follow]

Finally, the term for ‘morning erection’ that I’ve been accustomed to for several decades at least: piss hard-on (or, in a silly-sounding, but attested, variant, pee hard-on), capturing the co-occurrence of the need to urinate on awakening and the above-mentioned morning erection, and suggesting that the first might somehow be the cause of the second (perhaps via pressure of the full bladder on other structures). The co-occurrence of the two things is certainly a regular thing for many men (I am one), and it’s been recognized in the slang compound for some time. Green’s Dictionary of Slang (vol. 3, p. 179) has it from Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land of 1969 (“You know how if a guy wakes up in the morning, and he’s a young guy, he usually has a piss hard-on”) and Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words in 1972. From the same period, it occurs in the Kilgore Trout story Venus on the Half-Shell, where KT finds himself unable to urinate and develops a “piss hard-on”, exploited by the women on the planet he is visiting. The remarkable background of this story, from Wikipedia:

Venus on the Half-Shell is a science fiction novel by Philip José Farmer, writing pseudonymously as “Kilgore Trout,” a fictional recurring character in many of the novels of Kurt Vonnegut. This book first appeared as a lengthy fictitious “excerpt”—written by Vonnegut, but attributed to Trout—in Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965). With Vonnegut’s permission, Farmer expanded the fragment into an entire standalone novel (including, as an in-joke, a scene that incorporates all of Vonnegut’s original text). Farmer’s story was first published in two parts beginning in the December 1974 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The plot, in which Earth is destroyed by cosmic bureaucrats doing routine maintenance and the sole human survivor goes on a quest to find the “Definitive Answer to the Ultimate Question,” bears some resemblance to the later Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series.

So piss hard-on has been around for at least half a century. Not as refined as morning erection (which is harder to trace, because it’s so transparent semantically), but definitely more memorable.


3 Responses to “Morning erections”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    I’ve heard the term “piss hard” though not at all often. Never heard “morning glory” in that sense since I started learning dirty words on the playground in 1947 or so. It seems undue prudery to object to its use in a place name.

    How about “Ipomoea Road”? Or “Sweet Potato Road?

  2. buckbear Says:

    I grew up using piss-stiffy, morning wood and morning glory.

  3. John Lawler Says:

    It seems to me, as a former Utah resident, and a non-user of the phrase, that Morning Vista Road does nothing to remove the unsought connotation of Morning Glory Road, and indeed adds exhibitionism to the rap sheet.

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