Learn English – Etymology of “norton”


The conversation took a turn towards Monty Python yesterday, and in particular the Life of Brian. This film featured as a character (Brian's putative father) the Roman soldier Nortonus Maximus, a name derived from norton, a slang word for penis.

I was naturally curious as to how a penis could come to be called a norton, but when I went to look it up I was surprised to find the word doesn't appear in Farmer & Henley, nor in Partridge, nor in Green. It isn't even in Urban Dictionary, and I can't find this definition anywhere online. But I can distinctly remember using the word before the Life of Brian was released, and the scriptwriter clearly expected the joke to be understood by the audience.

So, does anyone know the etymology of this word? And does anyone know why it seems to have been overlooked in the standard references?

Best Answer

Not a direct answer to your question, admittedly, but this does clarify part of what you were asking.

The character's name in Life of Brian is Nortius Maximus or 'Naughtius Maximus'.

A T.V. Tropes disussion on the Punny Names in Life of Brian yields the following:

Monty Python's Life of Brian. Brian's Roman father was supposedly named Nortius Maximus (which sounds like "Naughtius Maximus"), and Pilate's friend is named Biggus Dickus (with a wife named Incontinentia Buttocks). Brian's first name is not a pun, but it satirizes the trend among Jewish-American families to give their sons old-fashioned English first names such as Irving, Sherman, and George in order to "fit in". (Many of these names almost immediately became stereotyped as "Jewish names".)

This reminds me very much of the quote from the Life of Brian:

He's not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy!

This is probably why you couldn't find it!

Other than this, I've never heard of using norton as a slang for penis.
Do you have any additional examples of this?