‘Everything obscene comes from France,’ wrote James Dixon, an eye surgeon retired to Dorking, in 1888. He was provoked by learning of an item called a condom, and explained to his correspondent, James Murray, that this was ‘a contrivance used by fornicators, to save themselves from a well-deserved clap’. Surely the word had no place in the Oxford English Dictionary, of which Murray had for the previous nine years been editor? Murray was persuaded and left it out.
- Unlimited access to spectator.com.au and app
- The weekly edition on the Spectator Australia app
- Spectator podcasts and newsletters
- Full access to spectator.co.uk
Unlock this article
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first month for free, then just $2 a week for the remainder of your first year.