What is a Dildo?

By Isabelle Uren / August 04, 2022

Welcome dildo disciples to dildo 101, where I will answer all your burning questions (PSA — your dildo should never be burning!) Today we will take a tour of dildo trivia, so you will no longer have to wonder why it’s called a dildo, who invented the dildo, or even what a dildo is used for!

We’ll start off with some basics and move onto more advanced, niche knowledge for the most diligent dildo owner.

What is a dildo and what are they used for?

Dildo’s are phallic sex toys that provide internal stimulation, primarily in the vagina or the anus. However, they are extremely versatile and you can also use them external stimulation, or simulating oral sex. You can enjoy them alone, with a partner, or with multiple partners.

When moved in and out of the vagina or anus, dildos stimulate nerve endings inside the vaginal or anal canal and around the opening, similar to the feeling of a penis during penetrative sex. They can also stimulate the g-spot in people with vaginas or the prostate (p-spot) for penis owners, both of which are highly sensitive areas that can trigger orgasms when stimulated.

What does a dildo look like?

They come in dizzying array of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials, and there are many different types for different purposes.

Some take the form of real penises and feature lifelike details, such as a sculpted head, raised veins, and balls. Other’s are more abstract in their design and range from minimalistic to fantastical. There’s definitely a dildo for every aesthetic out there!

Realistic

The Vixen Johnny from VixSkin has to be one of the most realistic options out there! The dual density design delivers a firm core and a soft lifelike outer layer. It even has balls!

Non-representational

Non-representational dildos come in all colours and shapes. The Tantus Charmer is a beautiful shimmering purple, with undulating ridges for added stimulation.

Fantasy

Uberrime Teuthida Tentacle Dildo

Fantasy dildos take inspiration from all kinds of real and imaginary creatures! The Teuthida from fantasy dildo experts, Uberrime is a tantalizing tentacle ready to take a deep dive!

Who can use a dildo?

The short answer is anyone who wants to! Because of their versatility, anyone can use a dildo, no matter their gender or genitals. You can use them for anal or vaginal penetration, clitoral or perineal stimulation, or oral sex. The only rule is if you want to use it for anal penetration, it must have a flared base to prevent it from traveling up inside your body. Always remember the anal toy adage:

Without a base, without a trace.

What is the difference between a dildo and a vibrator?

The main difference is that a dildo is specifically a phallic-shaped object whereas a vibrator can be any shape. Also, some vibrators, like bullet vibrators or wand vibrators are only for external use. However, there is some crossover between the two, and why not combine two really great sources of stimulation! There are many different types of powered dildos, including vibrating ones and even some that thrust by themselves! If you are curious to find out more, we have a whole post the difference between dildos and vibrators.

Non-Vibrating Dildo

The Lovehoney Realistic Suction Cup Dildo has a lifelike 8 Inch shaft with a sculpted head and raised veins that add stimulation with each thrust!

Vibrating Dildo

The Colours Pleasures Vibrating Dildo combines the best of both worlds with a 5 inches textured shaft that also vibrates for even more of the good stuff!

Vibrator

Designed for stimulation of external erogenous zones, the Doxy Die Cast 3R is a powerful wand vibrator that’s perfect for broad clitoral stimulation.

Different Types

If you’ve ever looked at the dildo section on a sex toy website, you might have found yourself overwhelmed at the massive selection of different types to choose from. How do you know which one is going to tickle your fancy and hit the right spot? What’s packer dildo? What’s a fantasy dildo? And what is a strapless dildo?

We’ve already covered some of the most designs but let’s take a look some other common types, so you can shop with confidence and wow your friends with all your knowledge, of course!

violet dildo

The Maia Kendall Dildo has an impressively strong suction cup!

Suction Cup

Suction cup dildos can suction onto any smooth, flat surface and allow you to ride your dildo hands free! Let’s look at some of the benefits:

  • Moving your hips can increase arousal and chance of orgasm
  • You can explore a greater range of positions
  • Your hands are free for other stimulation
  • Most can also be worn in a harness
  • Anal safe

G-spot & P-spot

If you are looking to target the sensitive sweet spots of either the g-spot (vulva owners) or p-spot (penis owners), you are going to want a curved dildo. The shape makes it easy to find these pleasure centers and provide the deep massage they love so much! The Lovehoney Curved Suction Cup Dildo has a flared base, so it can be used vaginally or anally!

Tracey Cox Supersex Strap On Pegging Kit

Strap-On

Strap-ons are worn inside a harness that allows you to use the dildo like a real penis. Some are designed to be worn by vulva owners to give them a way to penetrate their partner, while others have a hollow dildo that can be worn over a penis. Hollow strap-ons are great for penis owners who have erectile dysfunction or want to penetrate their partner with something bigger.

Strapless Strap-On

Rather than being held in place by a harness, like a strap-on, strapless strap-ons have a bulb that sits inside the wearer’s vagina, providing some stimulation for the wear and giving a more intimate experience. However, they can be tricky to keep in place.

Desire Luxury Rechargeable Strapless Strap-On Dildo Vibrator
Desire Luxury Strapless Strap-On Dildo Vibrator
colorful dildo

Colours DP Pleasures Double Dildo

Double

Double dildos have functioning shafts. There are two main types of double dildos. The long, flexible, double ended type are great for sharing with a partner or enjoying solo. U-shaped double dildos, like the one pictured, are designed for enjoying double penetration, with one shaft for the vagina and one for the anus.

Squirting

Squirting dildos help you recreate the incredible feeling of having someone cum in or on you! You can fill them with a body safe fluid and have them blow a load whenever and wherever you fancy!

The Big Shot Squirting Dildo

Packer Gear 5″ Silicone Packing Penis

Packer

As I mentioned briefly earlier, packers tend to be soft, realistic penises that are worn inside the underwear to create the bulge you would get with a natural penis. They are most often used by trans men as a gender affirmation tool.

Dragon & Fantasy

These wild and wonderful dildos come in all manner of incredible designs, ranging from tentacles to dragons to aliens and pretty much anything you can dream up! They are usually heavily textured, making them intensely stimulating.

Uberrime — Igneus Dragon

What is a dildo made of?

Throughout time, dildos have been made of all sorts of materials, from stone to stale bread. Luckily we’ve come a long way in terms of the materials we have access to. However, due to a lack of regulations, there are still some pretty awful materials out there. This is why a little knowledge goes a long way when sex toy shopping for! Here’s what you need to know about shopping for a body-safe dildo:

Materials to avoid:

  • Jelly, rubber, and PVC can contain harmful chemicals that can leach into your body or damage the sensitive skin on your genitals. They are also porous, providing the perfect place for bacteria and mold to grow and multiply, and they degrade quickly. If you are interested, you can read more about the dangers of PVC and jelly.
  • TPE & TPR are non-toxic, but they are porous. As you can’t fully clean porous toys, I recommend avoiding insertable toys made of TPR/TPE as well.

The best materials for safe and sexy satisfaction…

All of these materials are non-porous and non-toxic. You can even steralize them by boiling as long as they don’t have any electrical parts!

Silicone

Silicone dildos come in different levels of firmness. Out of all the body safe materials, they give the most lifelike feeling, especially the dual density ones, like the Vixen Mustang.

Glass

Glass dildos come in some truly unique and beautiful designs. But is glass safe? Yes! Look for borosilicate glass, which is much stronger than regular glass. You can heat it or cool it, making it a great tool for temperature play, and it’s compatible with any lube! Isn’t this Crystal Heart Dildo just so cute!

Metal

Metal, particularly stainless steel, is also fantastic for temperature play and compatible with any lube. Also, the added weight can really increase the stimulation.

What to use other than a dildo?

If you are in the mood but don’t have a dildo on hand, you might be tempted to grab the first phallic shaped object within reach to scratch that itch. But that probably isn’t going to be a safe option! When we are highly aroused, our inhibitions are lowered, meaning we’re likely to make riskier decisions — like using a poor unsuspecting banana for our own pleasure! However, getting it on with something that isn’t body safe could lead to some nasty infections or even getting something stuck.

Here are some other things you can use if you don’t have a dildo…

  • Make an ice dildo — it’s perfect for exhilarating temperature play and keeping cool on those hot summer days. Just be aware, this is not anal safe.
  • Make your own DIY dildo. We don’t recommend making your own sex toys, and you are doing so at your own risk. Buying a purpose made sex toy is always the safest option. Check out these cheap options instead!
  • Use your fingers or another sex toy!

The History of the Dildo

Many say that dogs are man’s best friend, and while I agree, I must point out that dildos have been keeping us company for almost as long and they don’t have their own catchphrase!

Time for a little sex toy history….

We don’t know for sure who invented the dildo, but whoever the horny genius was I would personally like to thank them for their contribution to society! The oldest one that has been found to date is thought to be 28,000 years old. While we can’t be certain that the carved phallic stone was used for sexual gratification, if there’s one we thing know about humans, it’s what they tend to do with phallic shaped objects!

So we know they are nothing new, but why is it called a dildo and are there any other words?

Again, there’s a bit of disagreement about where the name comes from, but there are a couple of strong theories:

One theory is that it stems from the Italian word diletto, meaning delight.

The Online Etymology Dictionary states that this theory is unlikely and traces the first use back to 1593, and points out that ‘dildo’ was at times used as a nonsense word. It also links the word to the Old Norse ‘dilla’ meaning to lull.

Some other words that have been used throughout time

  • Fascinum (Latin)
  • Olisbos (Greek)
  • Godemiché (French)

So while we don’t know for sure whether the name comes from to delight or to lull, we do know that dildos do both!

Whatever you call your dildo, make sure to take good care of it!