One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The carrying of a phallus, especially as part of a festival of Dionysus in ancient Greece; an instance of this, a phallophoric procession or ritual.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Samuel Purchas (bap. 1577, d. 1626), geographical editor and compiler and Church of England clergyman. Either from Hellenistic Greek ϕαλλοϕορεῖν to bear a phallus + -ia, or from Hellenistic Greek ϕαλληϕόρια, altered after ancient Greek ϕαλλός penis. Compare French phallophorie.
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