No word for it: ‘erectioned’

In a discussion on ADS-L recently, the wonderful technical term ithyphallic came up (so to speak), and I realized that this was another case (of many) where English doesn’t have a word for something, in any useful sense of to have a word for.

As background, look at the discussion in this Language Log posting of mine from 12/2/06, where I argue that a useful interpretation of word for X in language L is something like ‘ordinary-language fixed expression of some currency’ (olfesc) — with meaning packaged into an everyday expression — placing three requirements:

(1) we’re looking at an ordinary-language expression, not a technical term; vast numbers of features of the human anatomy have technical names in English, which are listed in large dictionaries of the language, but only a few of these features have ordinary-language names (philtrum is out, and so is ithyphallic)

(2) we’re looking at a fixed expression (simple word, conventionalized compound or other idiomatic expression), not a semantically compositional phrase (aunts and uncles is out, and so are the compositional phrases with an erect penis / erection / hard-on / boner / stiffy etc.); note that the meanings in question are certainly expressible in English, just not in a fixed expression

(3) we’re looking at an expression of some currency in the language, not a dialect form, archaic expression, or socially restricted form (like child language kneepit), and of course not just a possible creative invention (like erectioned, formed on the model of the attested verandahed ‘having a veranda’ and blue-eyed  ‘having blue eyes’ (examined in W. H. Hirtle’s “Adjectives Like ‘Verandahed’ and ‘Blue-eyed'”, Journal of Linguistics 6 (1970))

Still, ithyphallic is entertaining. From NOAD2:

ithyphallic adjective  (esp. of a statue of a deity or other carved figure) having an erect penis. [plenty of art examples in earlier postings on this blog]
ORIGIN early 17th cent. (as a noun denoting a sexually explicit poem): via late Latin from Greek ithuphallikos, from ithus ‘straight’ + phallos ‘phallus’

3 Responses to “No word for it: ‘erectioned’”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From John Wells on Facebook:

    You could say that English is hard up for such words.

  2. jlundell Says:

    We do have, however, ‘erigible’.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Well, it means ‘capable of being erected’ (used, for example, of the spines of certain animals), and it’s a rare technical term. So: entertaining, but not quite the right meaning, and not an olfesc.

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