About This Word

wiener

or weiner or weenie

[wee-n-er]

What does wiener mean?

A wiener is a type of sausage or anything that superficially resembles one, particularly a penis or a dachshund breed of dog.

Where does wiener come from?

The word wiener, often misspelled as weiner, is rooted in the German Wienerwurst, which roughly translates to "Vienna sausage." Wiener literally means "of Vienna" and is pronounced like "vine-ah" in German. There is some debate about whether the sausages were invented in Vienna or in Frankfurt, Germany, but it’s generally agreed that they traveled to the United States with German immigrants, who began selling wieners (or frankfurters) to earn a living.

The term wiener entered the English language as “wee-ner” by 1900. Hotdogs are still often called wieners or weiner dogs today, and in Rhode Island, they are referred to as hot wieners.

As is the fate of many phallic-looking objects, it didn’t take long for the word wiener to become a slang reference to the penis. By the early 20th century, when hot dogs had become a popular food in the US, English speakers were already using wiener as a euphemistic or childish slang term for the penis, including referring to sexual intercourse as “hiding the weenie.”

Slang terms for penis are often used as insults (cf. dick). This is true for wiener, too. It can be used as a mildly derogatory term for a coward, a socially-awkward male, or an effeminate one.

The dachshund breed of dogs are often called wiener-dogs due to their sausage-like shape. Similarly, hot dogs themselves are sometimes called dachshund sandwiches.

Who uses wiener?

Some adults (especially parents) and children will use wiener in speech and writing as a euphemistic substitute for the penis. Due to its juvenile connotations, wiener can sound immature and is often a source of ridicule or humor.

Calling a person a wiener (i.e., a wimp or dork) can be considered mildly offensive. Calling a hotdog a wiener, while it still has some currency, may cause some confusion or snickers. Dachshunds, however, commonly go by wiener-dog; a 2016 film about the breed was even titled this.

Wiener is not to be confused with the common surname Weiner in German, Yiddish, and Jewish; however, this confusion is what leads to many of the misspellings of the word.

For example

Only retweet if your wiener is under 5 1/4” on a good day.

@internet__Boi, February 2018

My wiener dog just goes into my parents room and barks until someone picks him up and puts him on their bed.

@KennFeltaman, February 2018

'Please tell me you don't already have a little wiener,' she says as she hands him a small hot dog, stunning him into momentary silence.

Tia (The Bachelor contestant), quoted by Lauren Piester, December 2017

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