The Dirty Word in 43 Down

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Apr 10 23:34:26 UTC 2006

I first heard "scum[ ]bag" = "condom" in the 'wild' in 1964 or 1965. It
clearly meant "condom" and not "used condom" from the context,
approximately "If you're going to [some place of ill repute] you'll need to
bring a scum[ ]bag." I've hardly ever heard this term for a condom since
then. I had at that time already heard "scum[ ]bag" = "despicable/dirty

As for the ancestry of "scum[ ]bag" = "condom" ....

At MoA (Michigan), searching <<scum bags>> retrieves an 1851 reference to
the use of such bags in sugar manufacture.

Searching MoA (Cornell) for <<scum sacks>> retrieves an 1869 "Scientific
American" description of what are presumably the same sacks or bags, with a
drawing of such a "scum sack".

<<As the contents of the scum sacks is of a slimy, slippery nature ... it
is necessary to fold them in a different manner from what we indicated in
speaking of the pulp sacks. / As soon as a sack has received its contents,
a smart shake is given to it so as to collect the scum at the bottom, it is
then folded through the middle ....>>

... Or is it just a coincidence?

-- Doug Wilson

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