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March 6, 1967

An Adventure in Vigor

JAMA. 1967;199(10):768. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120100130045

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To the Editor:—  In his recent discussion of the penis (199:256, 1967), Alexander Gode, PhD exhibits his usual erudition, but his presentation lacks rigor.It is quite all right to consider the penis as an "individualized agent" that is both personalized and masculine, but this does not carry us very far forward. More significant is the problem not why the organ should be masculine, but why it is in fact sometimes feminine. In French, of course, the term is verge, which is feminine. This derives from the Latin virga, which means, first of all, a slender branch or twig; it has taken on the meaning of a rod or switch, as for flogging; a staff or wand or rod; and finally—shall we say by extension— the meaning of "membrum virile." The Latin virga is related to virgo, or virgin, just as the French verge is cognate to vierge, both