The Meaning of Phallic: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of phallic? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word phallic, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word phallic mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Dictionary, the word phallic (pronounced ˈfælɪk) is an adjective that denoted things that are related to the penis, also known as the phallus. This could describe some embodiment of generative power, such as phallic worship in a phallic cult, or it could simply relate to medical terms related to an erect penis or genital organs. Sometimes, phallic imagery is used as a metaphor in books or essays. This could also be used to reference Freud’s stages of psychosexual development, in which one of the stages is considered the phallic phase or phallic stage. Try using this word of the day or other new words in a sentence today. 

Many different languages also contain words that mean phallic. You may notice that many of these words look and sound very similar to the word phallic. This is likely because they have the same root word or ancestral language, such as Latin or Greek. Often, this is how cognates are formed. Cognates are words that look, sound, and mean the same thing between languages. This list of translations for the word phallic is provided by Word Sense.

  • Catalan: fàl·lic‎
  • Hebrew: פאלי‎, פאלית‎
  • Italian: fallico‎ (masc.)
  • Polish: falliczny‎
  • Latin: phallicus‎ (masc.)
  • Asturian: fálicu‎
  • Occitan: fallic‎
  • Korean: 남근의‎
  • Spanish: fálico‎
  • Swedish: fallisk‎
  • Czech: falický‎
  • Portuguese: fálico‎
  • Russian: фалли́ческий‎
  • Afrikaans: falliese‎
  • Turkish: fallik‎
  • Greek: φαλλικό‎
  • Dutch: fallisch‎
  • Norwegian: fallisk‎
  • German: phallisch‎
  • Galician: fálico‎
  • Japanese: 陰茎の‎ (inkei no, inkyou no), 男根の‎ (dankon no)
  • French: phallique‎
  • Romanian: falic‎
  • Hungarian: fallikus‎
  • Finnish: fallinen‎, fallos‎
  • Danish: fallisk‎

What is the origin of the word phallic?

According to Etymonline, the word phallic has been used as an adjective since the year 1789. This word comes from the Greek phallikos, from the Latin phallos. This word also gives us the related word phallus. The term phallic symbol has been used since 1809. The word phallus has been used as a noun since the 110s meaning an image of a penis. This comes from the Latin phallus, from the Greek phallos meaning penis or some carving of a penis used in the cult of Dionysus. This comes from the Proto-Indo-European root bhel-no or bhel meaning to blow or swell. This is also the source of the Old Nouse boli meaning bull, Old English bulluc meaning little bull and the Greek phalle meaning whale. Related words include phallicism, ithyphallic and phallocentric. 

How can the word phallic be used in a sentence?

The word phallic can be used in a variety of different circumstances to relate to things involving the penis, such as phallic imagery or Freud’s theories. In this example, a mother is confused why her middle school daughter refuses to pack the snacks she has packed for lunch.

Mom: I thought you liked bananas.

Daughter: I do, but you should see the way girls get made fun of for eating them. It’s ridiculous. I can’t eat them at school.

Mom: That’s ridiculous. Boys relate everything to the penis. Sometimes a banana is just a banana, not a phallic symbol. 

What are the five stages of psychosexual development according to Sigmund Freud?

According to Simply Psychology, Sigmund Freud was a Austrian neurologist who was the founding father of psychoanalysis. He has many different theories relating to the phallus and phallic symbols, one of his most famous being the five stages of psychosexual development, a psychoanalytic theory. Simply Psychology states that Freud proposed that childhood personality development takes place in five distinct psychosexual stages, including the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital stages. Freud believed that life was centered around tension and pleasure. These stages are called the psychosexual stages because each stage represents a fixation on a different libido on a different area of the body, sometimes called erogenous zones

The oral stage is focused on the mouth. This phase takes place from zero to one year old. Everything is centered around a baby’s mouth – babies love to put things in their mouth to explore, from eating to using a pacifier and more. Everything at that stage in life is considered oral according to Freud. Next, the anal stage occupies years one thorugh three. Here, the child is aware that they are their own person and this sort of conflict comes to a head in potty training. He believed taht trauma associated with potty training could lead to a child being “anal retentive.” Third is what Freud considered the phallic stage, from ages three to six. In this stage, Freud asserts that the child becomes aware of their own genitalia as well as anatomical sex differences. Freud believed that this set into motion the Oedipus complex in boys and the Electra complex in girls. Next is the latency stage from ages six through puberty, in which the libido is dormant. Finally there is the genital stage from puberty to adult in which sexual instinct is focused on other people. 

Whie this theory is very widely known, it can neither be proven true nor false, as the libdo is not something that a person can measure. Freud is a complex character in the world of psychology. HIs theories are interesting to study, but we should not take his word as complete truth. These are all simply hypotheses. 

Overall, the word phallic is used to describe anything that relates to the penis. This could be phallic imagery such as the Washington Monument, or it could relate to Freudian theory