Learn English – Origin of “scumbag”


A phrase I sometimes hear from one of my colleagues is scumbag or scumbags:

  • Where does this phrase come from?
  • How old is it?
  • Is its usage still a common occurrence?

Best Answer

scumbag "condom," by 1967, slang, from scum + bag. Meaning "despicable person" is attested by 1971.


I found a condom reference back to 1939 in this snippet from the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Volume 9. The date seems accurate:


And I found this figurative use of the phrase from Chandler Brossard's 1953 The Bold Saboteurs:

What a scum bag of a world it was, what a miserable rat's life. I was getting so depressed I was forgetting the money in my pocket. In the early evening we all broke up. I told the fellows I might see them later at Sinbad's Bar

(See @Kit's comment above for current usage.)