What is the origin of the term “douchebag” used as a pejorative?
The OED indicates it derives by adding “douche” to “bag” (meaning unattractive woman). It’s first cite as a pejorative dates from 1967.
I would guess that the “douche” was a way of intensifying “bag.”
There was a Saturday Night Live skit back in the late 70s/early 80s that had “Lord and Lady Douchebag” in it–not sure if the insult predates that.
ETA: Heh. **RealityChuck **beat me to it–I guess it does!
That was one of my favorite skits from that era. It was a formal ball attended by all of these historical figures whose names wound up become associated with their creations (the Earl of Sandwich, etc.) Buck Henry played Lord Douchebag – when asked what he’d been up to, Lord Douchebag said, “I’ve been working on a new invention; my wife was the inspiration for it.” Lady Douchebag (Gilda Radner) asked a servant if she could have a salad with “vinegar and water” dressing.
I prefer douchnozzle, myself.
It’s so much more…perjorative!
I’m probably reading too much into this, but a bag is part of the douche, um… assembly(?) so it seems unlikely the two words were added together just for the insult. This page seems to agree, citing it’s use in a 1908 nursing handbook, but it also quotes OED about when it became an insult. It’s nitpicking but maybe it would be more accurate to say they replaced bag with douchebag?
If OED is the Oxford English Dictionary, it looks like you need an account to access their douchebag site.
I first heard it in the movie “Running Scared” with Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal. I believe Hines calls a priest a douchebag (he thinks he’s impersonating a priest to smuggle cocaine across the border). I was 11 at the time, and oddly no one would tell me what it meant…
When I hear the term now, it always seems to be directed at a male, and seems to imply that the recipient is behaving in an overly self-important or flamboyant manner, and has an exaggerated sense of self-worth. Is this how the term is generally used now, or is this just one particular use of the term? When did it start being used in this manner?
From another SNL skit
Yes, the OED confirms the term existed before in the non-pejorative sense and certainly was an influence. But the basic pejorative comes from the meaning “bag” as an unattractive women. No doubt someone saw the connection between that and the medical device and conflated the two.
While the OED is the go-to quick reference, Joh Lighters Dictionary of American Slang is the ultimate source. And, since the OED probably hasn’t updated the “Ds” since the 1989 version, it actually goes back to the 1940s. Still, at that time, it was usually used as a derogatory term about a woman. So, it probably was an extension of the “bag” term to demean a woman.
This would, IMHO, be like calling a woman a “cunt” in the 1940s. It was that severe.
Very interesting. Pat Conroy, in The Lords of Discipline, depicts its use (in the modern sense of “a man that I don’t like”) as being ubiquitous at The Citadel as far back as 1963. I’ve always wondered if that was an anachronism. Of course the word may have been common among army and military-school types before gaining written currency.
I remember “sleighbag” being used as pejorative for unattractive or promiscuous females around 1967 or so. Perhaps “douchebag” morphed from that into an insult toward males.