Moby Dick [means something?]

numes

Member
italian (Italy)
What is the origin of the odd name "Moby Dick"? Does It mean something?
It could has also a joking or grotesque and obscene meaning side like a "big dick" . Is it an acceptable explanation of the words ?
What was the Melville intention?
 
  • numes

    Member
    italian (Italy)
    I remember that Dick like Willy mean penis ... so this big "fish" and the obsessive and recursive word "spermaceti" present in the novel ( or romance?)
    What do you think about "Moby Dick" ? It is only a fantasy name?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Moby Dick was published in 1851.

    This article concerning human names applied to genitalia says (my emphasis):

    A few years after Edward Ward published his poem, the name Roger also came to denote penis. This was, in fact, the first of several male given names to be bestowed on that part of the male anatomy—Thomas followed in 1811, Dick in 1891, Peter in 1902 and Willie in 1905.

    I sincerely doubt that Melville was 40 years prescient.

    You could, of course, have done a bit of searching yourself.....:)

    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    It appears that Melville developed "Moby-Dick" from the famous white whale called "Mocha Dick." (Mocha Dick has a Wikipedia page here.) Mocha Dick got his name by being sighted off the coast of Mocha Island. "Dick" is probably just the common English use of "Dick" to mean "any fellow, man, or lad."

    Nobody knows why Melville decided to change "Mocha" into "Moby" (rather than any other M-word).

    If you want to psychoanalyze, I don't think you need "dick" to mean "penis." The whale is already quite clearly the Lacanian Phallus (it castrates Ahab, it is a "blank," etc.).
     

    numes

    Member
    italian (Italy)
    ahaha ok ok ...But I known that just William Shakespeare make allusions with the short name of William (Willie) Hughes (in some his sonnets I think)
    Maybe is a recent misunderstanding.
    If Dick could means also fellow or guy ... "the big fellow" sounds good for the Ahab whale
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    ahaha ok ok ...But I known that just William Shakespeare make allusions with the short name of William (Willie) Hughes (in some his sonnets I think) ...
    Shakespeare never mentioned Hughes, as William, Willie, Willy or anything else, in his sonnets. He dedicated several of them to "W.H." We do not know who W.H. was. William Hughes is one of the most likely possibilities, but this identification is not certain. In any case, Hughes was one of many actors who played female roles in the theater of that time. His "willy" would have been his least important professional qualification.
     

    numes

    Member
    italian (Italy)
    I checked where my opinion has origin. One is Wilde's The Portrait Of Mr. W.H.
    And the Shakespeare sonnets are the 135 and the 136. For my inaccurate remembrance I reported Willie but in the text is Will/will :
    So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
    One will of mine, to make thy large will more
    But I don't remember where I had read this malicious interpretation.
    However my question was "Moby Dick"
    Thank you at all for the readings you suggested me. I think to have a clearest idea
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It appears that Melville developed "Moby-Dick" from the famous white whale called "Mocha Dick." (Mocha Dick has a Wikipedia page here.) Mocha Dick got his name by being sighted off the coast of Mocha Island. "Dick" is probably just the common English use of "Dick" to mean "any fellow, man, or lad."

    Nobody knows why Melville decided to change "Mocha" into "Moby" (rather than any other M-word).
    That's what the link I posted (my post 2) said.;) And I also maintain what I said (in agreement with all of you who weighed in after me): the whale's genitalia have nothing to do with his name.;)
     
    Last edited:
    Agreed, London. I found the links useful, and corroborated elsewhere. "Dick" is just a name, as in "Tom Dick and Harry" and specific whales did have such monikers, e.g.

    //"But not only did each of these famous whales enjoy great individual celebrity -- nay, you may call it an ocean-wide renown; not only was he famous in life and now is immortal in forecastle stories after death, but he was admitted into all the rights, privileges, and distinctions of a name; had as much a name indeed as Cambyses or Caesar. Was it not so, O Timor Jack! thou famed leviathan, scarred like an iceberg....//

    http://www.melville.org/mobyname.htm
     
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