Where does morning wood come from?
According to lexicographer Jonathon Green, morning wood has been a US slang term for “an erection of the penis first thing in the morning” since the 1990s. In the UK, morning wood is often called morning glory—and not to be confused with the flower. The 2006 New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English cites the terms in Patricia Munro’s 1997 collection of UCLA slang. On the analogy of the stiffness of a tree or lumber to that of an erection, wood has been a slang term for the penis since the 1950s, used especially in the pornography industry to describe erections.
Morning wood is known in medical terminology as nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT). Produced by the release of a hormone called noradrenaline, NPT is a natural, healthy, and spontaneous occurrence happening several times a night. Many men regularly experience morning wood up until their 50–60s, though it is often associated with young adults.
Popular culture often alludes to morning wood as an in-joke and to flirt with taboos, given how common its component words are. Several bands and albums have taken the name morning wood. In the movie Office Space, the protagonist lives in a complex called Morningwood Condominiums. A level in the first person shooter game Duke Nukem Forever is titled “Morning Wood.” There’s even a morning wood-inspired Halloween costume. Innocent occurrences of morning wood, like the name of street or company, are often the source of laughter among people familiar with the slang.
Who uses morning wood?
Morning wood is in an informal, usually humorous way to refer to erections experienced upon waking. Some, often young adult to middle-aged men, joke about the awkwardness or inconveniences of morning wood. Others may find the term’s bodily or sexual content impolite or offensive.
“Even after Pinocchio became a real boy he still got morning wood #FakeDisneySpoilers”
@monalisa4068 Twitter (April 9, 2017)
“He woke up, and the morning wood was strong on him, ready to take on the challenges of the day.”
Marco @MarcoGanzPrivat Twitter (April 9, 2017)
“'Morning wood is absolutely a real thing, and it happens at the exact same time you have to take a leak. Your choices are either uncomfortably force it into position in order to get it all in the bowl, or leave it as is and lean in and arch it — kind of like a Bellagio fountain of piss.'”
Kyle, reported by Danielle Page, “10 Weird Things About Having An Erection, According To Guys, Because You Can Wiggle It,” Bustle (June 8, 2015)