To be filed under: Things Meade Found for Me When He Was Searching For Something I Needed But Was Too Afraid of the Internet to Look.
Writing that last post, I had a need to spell the plural of "dildo."
Me: "Is it like in Spanish, -os, or is there an 'e' in there, like potatoes?"
Meade: "You know they have this thing called Google."
Me: "Yes, but I'm afraid of what might pop out at me."
Meade found me the answer to my spelling question, and took the iffy topic in a scholarly direction with a wonderful item from the Magdalene College Pepys collection. Click the image above to enlarge, or read the salacious 17th century text here.
At night when I do go to bedThe (unlinkable) OED pronounces "dildo" "A word of obscure origin, used in the refrains of ballads," and the earliest example of the word — from 1598 — puts an "e" even in the singular. Shakespeare used the word in the plural in "Winter's Tale" and used the kind of apostrophe people make fun of today: "He has the prettiest Loue-songs for Maids..with such delicate burthens of Dildo's and Fadings."
thinking for to take my rest,
Strange fancies comes in my head
I pray for that which I love best:
For it is a comfort and pleasure doth bring
to women that hath such a pritty fine thing....
ADDED: I was wondering about "fadings" and found this key to Shakespeare about that line:
dildo (n.) nonsense refrain in a ballad; also: artificial penisNote that in that "Maids Complaint," "Dil doul" is a nonsense refrain: "For a dill doul, dill doul, dill doul doul." And you can see this in the OED examples, as well:
fading (n.) nonsense refrain in a ballad [with allusion to sexual energy]
c1650 in Roxburghe Ballads II. 455 She prov'd herself a Duke's daughter, and he but a Squire's son. Sing trang dildo lee.I take it "dildo" rhymed with "view" and "brew."
1656 S. Holland Don Zara i. vi. 57 That Gods may view, With a Dildo-doe, What we bake, and what we brew.