I want to write:

Our higher-profile projects include the delivery and erection of large exhibition stands for --company name-- at --redacted-- Championship;

The emphasis is only to highlight the problem word here and is not present in the actual copy.

I can't help worrying that erection introduces something unnecessary.

I could replace it with "delivering and assembling" instead, but erection is technically correct and a more precise word.

I need an outside opinion on whether erection introduces any possible effect, even a momentary confusion or lapse of focus, that I wouldn't want for formal commercial copy?

Sorry if this is a silly question or off topic.

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    This question might get a better answer at English Language & Usage since that site specializes in such matters. If you want to migrate it, click the flag link at the bottom of your post and flag it for moderator attention and ask for it to migrated to English Language and Usage. It is on topic here, so it does not have to be migrated. Nov 30, 2014 at 0:08
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    @PaulAClayton I figured this is more of a writing topic than a definition type question. If it doesn't get any answers I wouldn't mind migrating it to see, but I am hoping someone can weigh in here. I don't think ELU take kindly to questions that invite opinions that can't be explicitly quantified.
    – Dom
    Nov 30, 2014 at 2:11
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    When you say "erection" is more correct and precise - what are you basing this on? Because whatever's standard in the field is probably the best way to go. If everybody says "erection", it won't, ummm, stand out.
    – Standback
    Nov 30, 2014 at 8:42
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    I would see the double entendre. As an editor, I would change it to something else. Assemble or install, probably. Nov 30, 2014 at 14:16
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    @what I appreciate your help, and had I not been able to find an alternative, I would've gone ahead with this, but install has all the same benefits without a shadow of sexual connotation. Analysing its keyword potential was going to be my next port of call but I've found a better option. On that note, those search results weren't so relevant to what I'm aiming for, so that's further reason to avoid using it. Again, thank you.
    – Dom
    Nov 30, 2014 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


I would see the double entendre. As an editor, I would change it to something else. Assemble or install, probably.

"Install" to me means "Start with all the pieces, put it together, test to make sure it does what it's supposed to do, and clean up the site afterwards." Installing an exhibition would involve putting it into place, and if that required tools, that would seem to be understood.


In the given context the word "erection" does not have any sexual connotations for me. Outside of your question, I would not have thought of erect penises at all.

If you feel you must avoid this word, use verbs: "We deliver and erect stands." Or: "The delivery and erecting of stands."

Many sexual slang words have non-sexual base meanings and are commonly used in this meaning, despite the fact that sometimes they induces laughter in children of a certain age. You wouldn't avoid telling these people to "grab their balls" either, would you?

Image showing a group of young people training with red balls

"Now grab your spheres firmly and bend to the side!"

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    So I should just be mature and expect the readers to do the same? :)
    – Dom
    Nov 30, 2014 at 14:03
  • I would go farther than that. At the point when the word "erection" appears in your text, your readers (or listeners) have been primed (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priming_%28psychology%29) by the context of your speech to make the non-sexual meaning of the word salient (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salience_%28neuroscience%29), so that the sexual meaning will not even come to their minds, unless other information (e.g. the porn movie they have just viewed on their smartphone or your sexy dress) prompts them otherwise.
    – user5645
    Nov 30, 2014 at 14:24
  • Is three short paragraphs into the page enough priming though? I need to read those resources and will do shortly, thank you.
    – Dom
    Nov 30, 2014 at 14:28
  • Also, "erection" is certainly the appropriate technical term in the building industry, and your target audience will expect a certain meaning when they pick up your information. Someone on the lookout for your services will expect to read about the construction of buildings and not have an image of a penis in his mind. After all, as I understand your question, you are not writing for an unprepared audience.
    – user5645
    Nov 30, 2014 at 14:28
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    I think you have primed yourself to be unable to not think of male anatomy at the moment ;-) Why don't you write your text and give it to a friend to read and then ask them if they thought of boners when they read it. And please post the results! :-P
    – user5645
    Nov 30, 2014 at 14:36

I think there are other word choices that avoid the problem, so why not use them? Construct, assemble, build, put up, fabricate.

If you spot the problem, then at least some others will at well. If you want to avoid that, pick a different word.

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