Ernest Jones (1879-1958)

The following letter to the editor was published in the London Review of Books for September 23, 1993, on page 5:

What is cunnilingus?

As I know the LRB takes a particular interest in these matters of nomenclature, let me help out with the question posed by Adam Phillips: `Who other than Ernest Jones could have defined cunnilingus . . . as apposition of the mouth to the vulva?' (LRB, 5 August). The answer is Havelock Ellis, in his Sexual Selection in Man, from which Jones evidently cribbed these words--except that Jones preferred to write `vulva' where Ellis had `female pudendum'.

John Lavagnino
Brandeis University
Waltham, Massachusetts

I am sure the reader will be as disappointed as I was that Adam Phillips, when reprinting this essay on Ernest Jones in his book On Flirtation (Harvard University Press, 1994), did not correct his error.

Jacque Russom and I have written a related article on the history of the word "sexual".

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