Read our previous post on condom names around the world
In the 21st Century, anything goes and there is little that is not talked about openly online and in the media including all aspects of sexual health. Television advertisements are becoming increasingly blatant and most people these days will just walk into a pharmacy or chemist and ask for condoms, that is if they weren’t dropping them into the trolley on their weekly supermarket trip. But it wasn’t always the case.
Even in the latter years of the last century, condoms were never referred to as condoms but given other titles supposedly more discrete. We take a quick look at some of the more interesting and outlandish labels and where their names originated from.
- French letters – doing both the World Wars of the 20th Century, condoms were packed in petite paper envelopes and issued to British troops on French soil hence the name. There is a broader association rather linked to a more open and passionate nature than the reserved Englishman – some might even say promiscuous – hence the term, ‘French kiss’. Rather perversely, the French refer to condoms as ‘capote anglaise’ which literally translated means, English raincoat. The German colloquialism for condom is, rather interestingly, ‘Pariser’ which means, ‘Parisian’. Some historians say the military origin of the term, French letter, is much earlier than the conflicts of the 20th Century and that there are references to this phrase some two hundred years prior
- Johnny – this comes from ‘rubber johnny’ which was a very commonplace term in use in the 20th Century in particular. Some people feel that it has an American connection with their phrase for the toilet which is ‘john’ but the consensus seems to be that it originates from that famous novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H.Lawrence which was originally banned under obscenity laws. The character, Mellors, uses the reference, ‘John Thomas’ at least four times to refer to the penis. It doesn’t require much imagination to move therefore from ‘johnny’ to ‘rubber johnny’ which can then be shortened to just, ‘rubber’ as well. Interestingly, this novel is still courting controversy years after the famous trial adjudged it obscene with the Judge’s own annotated copy temporarily barred from leaving the UK in the hands of a foreign buyer due to its historical significance
- Something for the weekend, Sir – this was a phrase or euphemism uttered by a barber to a gentleman after his haircut and shave which obviously means, would you like a condom for your weekend plans. It represents a time when sexual matters were dealt with more subtly and discreetly and there were more suggestion and innuendo that we would see these days
There are of course many slang terms for a condom most of which are purely an alternative description of what it does. Manufacturers spend a long time choosing trade names as a bad label can make or break a condom – we use this pun with a heavy heart! Whatever name you give to yours, always remember to follow best practice and stay safe!