How do I describe an object's potential / degree of being phallic?

Example: This beer stein's what word here is a bit over the top.

  • Apparently legitimate answers are not allowed.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 2:25
  • @HotLicks No answers have been posted. I invite you to do so.
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 2:35
  • Relevant: Can “ness” be added to any adjective?
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 2:45
  • Any "answer" here must be either a neologism or a use of an existing word in a new sense. "Citations" are basically impossible.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 2:50
  • @HotLicks I don't believe that’s true, but whatever you do, answers go in the Your Answer box, not in comments, and should meet the stipulations in the post notice above. References to actual use in print rather than merely dictionaries alone still count as citations, though preferably ones of newer vintage than Catullus. I did find several words with this very meaning in the OED, so it just takes a bit of work.
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 3:03

5 Answers 5


The word in use meaning 'the state or quality of being phallic' is 'phallicity':

phallicity ‎(uncountable)
1. Quality of being phallic.


Use of the word is limited. Google returns 3,340 results, and Google Books a mere 848. The limited use does not, however, mean the word is a 'nonce-word':

nonce-word n. [one of a number of terms coined by James Murray especially for use in the N.E.D.] a word apparently used only ‘for the nonce’, i.e. on one specific occasion or in one specific text or writer's works.

["nonce, n.1". OED Online. September 2016. Oxford University Press. http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/127827?redirectedFrom=nonce+word (accessed September 28, 2016).]

(Amusingly, as a side note, 'nonce-word', as the definition explains, started as a nonce-word, but is no longer one.)

The use of 'phallicity', as revealed by examining the Google Books search results, is primarily in three domains: psychoanalysis, literary criticism, and feminism. Its history in use ranges from sometime before 1957, in psychoanalysis,

This passivity she is forced to oppose because it is the anal-sadistic equivalent to what in phallicity is the quality "castrated".

(The psychoanalytic review, ©1913-©1957 [p 364])

to the present day, as evidenced by the results of the Google search as well as the latest Google Books attestation,

She uses the joke for her own fun and 'gifts it with the absent presence of a lesbian phallus'. Karin Sellberg and Michael O'Rourke coined the term 'Gaga's tele-dildonics', continuing the discussion about her phallicity, and refer to her 'girlboner' as what Butler calls a 'transferable phantasm'.

(Queer Tracks: Subversive Strategies in Rock and Pop Music, Doris Leibetseder, May 23, 2016).

Most uses are in texts pertaining to or derived from psychoanalytical studies.


I believe a nonce word such as "phallicity" or "phallicitude" is called for in this situation.

Sadly, the nearest plausible alternative actually in use, "phallicism", already serves to refer to the worship of the phallus (as a symbol of its generative purpose in nature).

  • 2
    How closely are they related to felicity and felicitude...?
    – BoldBen
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 4:13
  • @BoldBen My point exactly, and yet it's just the tip of the iceberg...
    – jaxter
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 4:29

 I am tempted to suggest Phallicalness or Phallicness. I can not justify it by means of actual usage, or even a direct dictionary entry but it seems to be the most valid option under the rules of morphological derivation. In the context of linguistics, the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia defines morphology as:

The science of structure, or of forms, in language. It is that division of the study of language which deals with the origin and function of inflections and derivational forms, or of the more formal as distinguished from the more material part of speech.

 I am not a morphologist, so I won't be able to proffer the best explanation, but I do read dictionaries fervently so I believe I can be of some help based upon the observations I've made therein:

 Dictionaries tend not to list every valid derivation, in part because they are too numerous and in part because they're too numerous and in part because the definition should be axiomatic, based upon the root word and perhaps the surrounding context of the word. It is for these reasons that they often prefer to simply make a list of relevant words near the entry for the applicable affix. Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition for instance has a large list of words that may possibly start with the non- prefix which starts on page 1660 and ends on page 1662 for instance. Sometimes it is possible to combine affixes to achieve a certain result, such as in the word convincingly, which is simply the word convince with the -ing and -ly affixes tacked onto it as you can see in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (A.H.D.E.L.), 5th edition. The 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (W.R.U.D.) notes that the -ness suffix can be used to form abstract nouns from adjectives through exemplification of the adjective good. A.H.D.E.L. further notes that the -ness suffix indicates state, quality, condition or degree.
 I personally prefer the Phallicalness spelling to Phallicness one mostly because a search on onelook's reverse dictionary search engine reveals that there are nearly three times as many icalness words than there are words which go directly from ic to ness1, with the exact numbers being 80 compared to 25. This is in spite of the fact that icalness is a more complex formation than -icness, suggesting that for some reason, -icalness is the grammatically sounder derivation. Furthermore, I like the -ness suffix specifically because it specifically notes degree as you requested, unlike the -ity suffix, which is also in A.H.D.E.L. but only as noting state or quality.

 However, insofar as actual usage goes, none of of these options see much if any usage. The only ones which receive Google nGram results are phallicity and phallicness which barely see any usage at all in comparison root word phallic on Google Ngrams. Between the two derivations noting state2, phallicity is first, with a brief period of usage at the end of the 1920s and a resurgence in the 1950s. Usage of Phallicness began around 1964 and it never was only ever half as popular as phallicity except for a period of time at the end of the 1960s when both of these options were equal. Nevertheless, between the forms that were actually used in print, I prefer phallicness in this case, since you specify a need to possibly signify degree, which is the domain of the -ness sufix.

1 These search results for *icness and *icalness are backed up on The Internet Archive.

2A screenshot backup of the Google Ngram results can be found on Postimg: Here is the complete ngrams result, and here is the comparison between just phallicness and phallicity.


Priapism would probably stretch to fit this usage.

Priapic is a synonym for phallic:


  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) of or relating to Priapus; phallic.
  2. characterized by or emphasizing a phallus: priapic figurines.
  3. (of an image) suggestive of or resembling a phallus by its shape.
  4. exaggeratedly concerned with masculinity and male sexuality.


Its derivative priapism originally referred to randy behavior, and now most commonly refers to a medical condition involving persistent erection (dictionary.com). However, it is occasionally used figuratively, and in a way similar to the desired sense.1

For example, architectural priapism is a phrase sometimes employed to describe skyscrapers, popularized (coined?) by Leon Krier and made memorable by his cartoon of the London building known as the Gherkin.

A custom "ultimate hot-rod" was actually named the Priapism. (On purpose.)

An art critic for The Observer talks about the "modest priapism and slight swagger" of an art installation featuring candlesticks inscribed with the names of revolutionary leaders and set on high stools. This last example is especially useful, as it hints at the term's utility for expressing the degree to which an object is phallic.

So for the OP's example, one could say

This beer stein's priapism is a bit over the top.

1 The phrase also is used figuratively to mean something like aggressive-masculinity or aggressive excitement, as in this JSTOR Daily article ("capitalist priapism") or this history book (France's "political priapism").


How about the following neologism: malefactor (pronounced male'-factor as opposed to mal'-e-fac-tor)?

"Male" corresponds to "phallus" in the OP's question, and "factor" corresponds to "degree or quality".

"This beer stein's malefactor (male'-factor) is a bit over the top."

  • 1
    And the pun aspect makes it even more playful, even if mispronounced.
    – jaxter
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 4:31

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