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 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"), Hindi language (Darshildo), Spanish (Consolador, literally "consolation/consolator") or Welsh (cala goeg, literally "fake penis").