Use of the word ménages

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jan 30 20:28:30 UTC 2004

At 3:03 PM -0500 1/30/04, Bob Love wrote:
>In a diary entry from 1926, I have encountered an unorthodox use of the word
>"ménages" where it seems to be used as a noun, meaning a device or potion
>used for birth control. (At least that is the meaning I have teased out of
>the context.) I have been looking for but cannot find a dictionary reference
>to this slang use of a French word meaning "household."
>If anyone can shed light on this, I would be grateful.
Could you provide more of the context in which it occurs?  A "ménage"
is generally anything that has to do with housekeeping, housework, or
maintenance, but also with conservation of resources, taking of
precautions, etc. and I recall that the standard term for
contraceptive in French is "préservatif", so it's not necessarily
that much of a stretch, although I can't find a relevant gloss in my
(monolingual) French dictionary.


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