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  1. of or relating to the phallus carried in ancient festivals of Bacchus.
  2. grossly indecent; obscene.
  3. Classical Prosody. noting or pertaining to any of several meters employed in hymns sung in Bacchic processions.
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  1. a poem in ithyphallic meter.
  2. an indecent poem.
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Origin of ithyphallic

1605–15; < Late Latin īthyphallicus < Greek īthyphallikós, equivalent to īthý(s) straight, erect + phall(ós) phallus + -ikos -ic
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for ithyphallic


  1. prosody (in classical verse) of or relating to the usual metre in hymns to Bacchus
  2. of or relating to the phallus carried in the ancient festivals of Bacchus
  3. (of sculpture and graphic art) having or showing an erect penis
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  1. prosody a poem in ithyphallic metre
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Word Origin

C17: from Late Latin, from Greek ithuphallikos, from ithuphallos erect phallus, from ithus straight + phallos phallus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for ithyphallic

1610s, "poem in ithyphallic meter," from Greek ithyphallos "phallos carried in the festivals," from ithys "straight" + phallos "erect penis" (see phallus). As an adjective from 1795. The meter was that of the Bacchic hymns, which were sung in the rites during which such phalloses were carried. Thus, in Victorian times, the word also meant "grossly indecent" (1864).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper