There is general agreement that a non-vibrating device, resembling the penis in shape, size, and overall appearance, is a dildo. Some people include vibrating devices in this definition. Others exclude penis prosthetic aids, also called "extensions." Some include penis-shaped items clearly designed with vaginal penetration in mind even if they are not true approximations of a penis. Some people include devices designed for anal penetration (butt plugs) while others do not. Then there are the types that enter both the vagina and anal areas, known as the shocker effect. Dildos and other sexual items are also known to be used not only for masturbation but also for sexual activities.
The word "dildo" originally referred to the phallus-shaped peg used to lock an oar in position on a dory (small boat). It would be inserted into a hole on the side of the boat, and is very similar in shape to the modern toy. It is highly likely the toy takes its name from this sailing tool, which also lends its name to the town of Dildo, Newfoundland and the nearby Dildo Island in Newfoundland, Canada.
Others suggest the word is a corruption of Italian "diletto" (for "delight"). The term first appeared in English language print when Ben Jonson's 1610 play, The Alchemist, was published in 1616. William Shakespeare used the term once in The Winter's Tale, believed to be from 1610, but not printed until the First Folio of 1623.
The phrase "Dil Doul," referring to a man's penis, appears in the 17th century folk ballad "The Maids Complaint for want of a Dil Doul".The song was among the many in the library of Samuel Pepys, and the term "doul" still means a child's little penis in modern Persian.
Olisbos is a classical term for a dildo, from the Greek ολισβος; a godemiche is a dildo in the shape of a penis with scrotum. In some modern languages, the names for "dildo" can be more descriptive, creative or subtle, such as in Russian (Фаллоимитатор, literally "Phallic imitator"), Spanish]] (Consolador, literally "consolation/consolator") or Welsh (cala goeg, literally "fake penis").
Dildos in one form or another have been present in society throughout history. Artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic which have previously been described as batons were most likely used for sexual purposes. However, there appears to be hesitation on the part of archaeologists to label these items as sex toys: as one archaeologist put it, "Looking at the size, shape, and — some cases — explicit symbolism of the ice age batons, it seems disingenuous to avoid the most obvious and straightforward interpretation. But it has been avoided." There have been many references to dildos in the historical and ethnographic literature. Haberlandt, for example, illustrates single and double-ended wooden dildos from late 19th century Zanzibar.
The world's oldest known dildo is a siltstone 20-centimeter phallus from the Upper Palaeolithic period 30,000 years ago that was found in Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm Germany. Findings of the archaeologists show that ancient Egyptians used dildos 2,500 years ago. Also these sex toys were used by ancient Greeks. A vase with a woman using a dildo depicted on it was found by scientists. This vase was made in the fifth century B.C. Another ancient Greek vase of about the 6th century B.C. depicts a scene in which a women bends over to give a man a blowjob, while another man is about to thrust a dildo up her posterior. 
The first dildos were made of stone, tar, wood and other materials that could be shaped as penises and that were firm enough to be used as penetrative sex toys. Chinese women in the 15th century used dildos made of lacquered wood with textured surfaces. With the invention of modern materials there appeared the possibility of making dildos of different shapes, sizes, colors and textures.
In 1966 Ted Marche pioneered the manufacturing and distributing of rubber dildos and other sex toys. 
Dildos in culture
John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, the 17th century English libertine, published his poem Signior Dildo in 1673. During the Parliamentary session of that year, objections were raised to the proposed marriage of James II of England, brother of the King and heir to the throne, to Mary of Modena, an Italian Catholic Princess. An address was presented to King Charles on 3 November, foreseeing the dangerous consequences of marriage to a Catholic, and urging him to put a stop to any planned wedding '...to the unspeakable Joy and Comfort of all Your loyal Subjects." Wilmot's response was Signior Dildo (You ladies all of merry England), a mock address anticipating the 'solid' advantages of a Catholic marriage, namely the wholesale importation of Italian dildos, to the unspeakable joy and comfort of all the ladies of England:
- You ladies all of merry England
- Who have been to kiss the Duchess's hand,
- Pray, did you not lately observe in the show
- A noble Italian called Signor Dildo? ...
- A rabble of pricks who were welcomed before,
- Now finding the porter denied them the door,
- Maliciously waited his coming below
- And inhumanly fell on Signor Dildo ...
Rubber dildos, usually incorporating a steel spring for stiffness, became available in the 1940s. This was a less than satisfactory arrangement because of the potential for serious injury from cuts from the spring when the rubber finally cracked and came apart.
Later, PVC dildos with a softer PVC filler became popular. Most of the inexpensive dildos sold today are made this way.
PVC and jelly-rubber toys have often been found to be problematic because they contain unsafe phthalates, softeners added to many plastics that are also found in some jewelry, food containers, and other soft rubber toys. Phthalates have been linked to health problems such as cancer and prenatal defects. Products made of PVC or jelly rubber cannot be sterilized. Manufacturers recommend using condoms with these toys if users share them.
In the 1990s, silicone rubber dildos became more popular, a trend that has continued as the prices have lowered. These are easier to clean and do not have the characteristic plastic aroma of PVC. They were expensive when introduced but are now reasonably priced, making them an excellent choice for the first-time user. Silicone holds body heat well, and is an excellent conductor of vibrations, allowing users to hold a vibrator at one end. Silicone is also a robust material (especially when compared to the cheap, unsafe jelly rubber that many dildos are made of) that can be sterilized by boiling or bleaching.
High-end, chrome plated steel dildos are also popular in the BDSM scene. Some users prefer them because of their hardness, firmness, durability, electrical conductance, and low friction, especially when used in conjunction with lubricant. Because they are heavy, they can be used to exercise vaginal PC muscles. (Betty Dodson's "barbell" is an example.)
A steel dildo may be warmed or cooled in water before use to elicit a range of temperature sensations. It may also retain body heat of the user. Because of its polished nonporous surface, it may be sterilized in boiling water, or in an autoclave.
Glass dildos have similar features to steel ones. In most of the cases, glass toys are solid, and made of Pyrex or other types borosilicate glass (Schott-Duranglas and Simax), although this may vary, depending on the manufacturer. Like steel, glass toys may be used to apply firmer pressure than silicone can to a female's G-spot (urethral sponge) or male's prostate gland. Unlike other types of toys, glass sex toys can also be personalized with inscriptions.
Cyberskin is a synthetic material that looks and feels like human skin. Many feel that Cyberskin feels quite realistic. It is a porous material and cannot be sterilized. It often gets sticky after washing (which can be remedied by a dusting of cornstarch) and is much more delicate and prone to rips and tears than silicone dildos. "Packing dildos", which are not designed for penetration, are often made of this material.
Phallus-shaped vegetables and fruits, such as banana or zucchini have even been used as dildos, possibly since prehistory. Smooth rocks of phallic shape are suited to use as a dildo. Any object of sufficient firmness and shape could be hypothetically used as a dildo.
Conventionally, many dildos are shaped like a human penis with varying degrees of detail, others are made to resemble the phallus of male animals. Not all, however, are fashioned to reproduce the male anatomy meticulously, and dildos come in a wide variety of shapes. These may resemble figures, or simply be practical creations which stimulate more easily than conventional designs. In Japan, many dildos are created to resemble animals or cartoon characters, like Hello Kitty, so that they may be sold as toys, thus avoiding obscenity laws.
Some dildos have textured surfaces to enhance sexual pleasure. Many dildos of high quality, also called top shelf toys, tend to have less of a resemblance to a penis, opting for ergonomic design.
Still other dildos kits are offered which allow a male to insert his erect penis into a larger plastic tube filled with molding material. This allows the man to create an exact replica of his own penis using ballistics gel or latex rubber (which is poured inside the finished mold). Such dildos may be offered to the man's partner to ensure fidelity or (more commonly) as a status symbol; simply for show.
Vaginal and/or anal penetration are the obvious uses. Dildos have fetishistic value as well, and some couples use them in other ways, running them over the skin during foreplay for example. If of appropriate sizes, they can be used as gags, for oral penetration for a sort of artificial fellatio. Some people also use specially designed dildos to stimulate the G-spot.
Dildos are used by people of all genders and sexual orientations, for masturbation or for sexual activity.
Safety and health
Some larger dildos are intended for visual appeal only and should not be used for penetration.
Dildos can transmit disease between users in the same way as other forms of sexual contact, and should not be shared among users where this is a concern. This is particularly true for dildos made of porous or micro-porous materials, such as most soft synthetics. On the other hand, smooth stainless steel or Pyrex dildos are easier to clean, non-porous, and can be more easily sanitized, either chemically or by boiling. Silicone dildos can also be sterilized via boiling or washing with a diluted bleach solution (10 parts water: 1 part bleach), then rinsed well. This is not meant to say that any unprotected dildo should be used by more than one person without being sanitized. An effective remedy is to use a fresh condom on the dildo.
Some silicone dildos are incompatible with some silicone-based lubricants, so users should avoid combining the two without doing a patch test.
Dildos without a flanged base or other mechanism to control the depth of insertion should not be used anally, because they can be difficult to retrieve without medical assistance should they be inserted completely.
A dildo to be inserted in the anus and remain in place for a period of time is called a butt-plug. Dildos used for repeated anal penetration, such as thrusting, are usually referred to as simply "dildos" and must have a flared base to be safe for anal play. There are also double-ended dildos, with different-sized shafts pointing in the same direction, used by women to accomplish both anal and vaginal penetration at once, or for two partners to share a single dildo. In this case, the dildo acts as a sort of "see-saw"; each partner takes an end and receives stimulation.
Strap-on dildos may be double-ended, in which case they are meant to be worn by users who want to experience vaginal or anal penetration while also penetrating a partner. They may also be used for anal penetration of men. If the penetration is done by a female partner to a male partner, the act is known as pegging.
Other types of dildos include those designed to be fitted to the face of one party, inflatable dildos, and dildos with suction cups attached to the base (sometimes referred to as a wall mount). Other types of harness mounts for dildos (besides strapping to the groin) include thigh mount, face mount, or furniture mounting straps.
Recent social acceptance and popularity has resulted in the emergence of highly adorned dildos. These are often made of expensive materials and may also be jeweled.
- Descriptions and photos of different types of dildos
- Online Etymology Dictionary
- Early Modern Center English Ballad Archive
- Marshack, A. 1972 The Roots of Civilization McGraw-Hill New York: 333
- Haberlandt, M. 1899. "Conträre Sexual-Erscheinungen bei der Neger-Bevölkerung Zanzibars", Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 31: 668-670
- Athenian Red Figure Vases: the Archaic Period (World of Art) (Paperback) by John Boardman, Thames & Hudson Ltd (Nov 1975), ISBN-10: 0500201439, ISBN-13: 978-0500201435
- More Historical Facts on Sex Toys
- Timeline of human sexuality
- Haberlandt, M. 1899. "Conträre Sexual-Erscheinungen bei der Neger-Bevölkerung Zanzibars", Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 31: 668–670.
- Marshack, A. 1972. The Roots of Civilization: The Cognitive Beginnings of Man's First Art, Symbol and Notation.. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0297994492.
- Taylor, T. 1996. The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture. New York: Bantam. ISBN 055309694X.
- Vasey, PL. 1998. "Intimate Sexual Relations in prehistory: lessons from Japanese Macaques", World Archaeology 29(03):407–425.
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