April 22nd, 2011 / 6:22 pm

you douche

I’ve been wondering about the term douche bag. Why is it so good, so apt, so fun and on the button to say? What other label (and it is a label) so perfectly calibrated? Why does it cause serotonin release when spun well, in the correct moment or setting or vibe? Why does it sound serious and canny and true? I sometimes fall in love with a person when they turn the phrase well. Right in love. What does it mean? Why does it sound to my ear both vintage and extant? And what metaphor are we working here?

Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity. A douche bag is a piece of equipment for douching—a bag for holding the fluid used in douching.

Is it the sound in the mouth, in the air? Linguists, weigh in. It does come out clean: douche bag. The solid D, the pleasurable “shooosh,” the strong, grounded, anchor of “bag.” Soft and hard. Just kidding, but not kidding at all. Not at all. Serious.

So explicit, yet capacious. I mean it is  beyond jerk—jerk is an offset of a nuanced initiative, sometimes even provocative (Brando was habitually a jerk—so what? Etc.)—and asshole is understandable, as we all can relate. We are all assholes sometimes in the same way we occasionally get embarrassingly drunk, and it’s OK to say, “God, I was such an asshole…” But douche bag? That’s a pariah. I will drink beer with 99% of humanity, but not a confirmed douche bag. Never. Ever. If someone’s a douche bag, they are a douche bag, done. A douche bag is loathsome, a contemptible phony. It implies a past wrong, a meanness, a paucity, Bad Faith and bad intent. Like a serial liar or a poor tipper who then steals tips off tables when no one is looking. A turd on a wedding cake (whose simile did I just steal, I forget). A douche bag is a douche bag. Fuck them all. A D-bag. A douche. A douche bag. It is a good term, I like it, I like saying it and hearing it said, and it does provide one clear goal in an oft diabolical  life of puzzling. To not be one.

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  1. stephen

      my friend in college used “douche” and “douchey” as ironic positives. he would say things like “so douchey” and chuckle his ass off. this may sound very unattractive, but he is very charming and nice in general, i feel, and he kind of reserved the sly-grin ironic humor for when it was “just us bros joking around.” i don’t know… he kind of made me ponder the whole douche bro thing. i found myself also delighting in things being “douchey,” as liberally applied. but yeah, he was a self-aware bro. he embodied some of the douchey bro stereotypes somewhat unironically, like gel in hair and pumping iron, but he would also do things like shave his legs, play nerdy-ass obscure video games (this activity he would probably also refer to as “douchey”) and he seems to be sort of pansexual if not actually queer or bi. i love that guy

      also, i like tom cruise

  2. Brooklyn Copeland

      I love and use this word. My favorite variation is to accuse someone of the act of “douchbaggery.”

  3. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      I think douche is so pleasurable to say because it has such softer sounds to it in contrast to other modern-day insults, like fuck shit cunt dick tit twat cock.

      Also it sounds like “oof” and (the unpleasant exclamation) “goo,” two words which are really funny but are never heard in a sincere context.

      Two other variations of douchebag my friends used back in the day:


  4. Booger

      I thought I was looking at my mother’s old douchebag, but that’s in Ohio.

  5. jtc

      I actually made a distinction a couple years back between douche-bag and asshole. An asshole, as I saw it, was a douche-bag who knew what he was doing. Because of that, I had decided that I would tolerate–drink with–a douche-bag, but I would not tolerate an asshole. There’s a sort of pity I feel for the douche-bag, because I don’t think he’s fully aware of himself or what he’s doing. (I might be a douche-bag.)

      The joy that comes from saying the word, for me, if I had to guess, has something to do with the irony of the douche-bag’s position. He doesn’t know that what he’s doing or wearing or saying or whatever makes him a douche-bag. This is especially rewarding when the douche-bag is trying to sound really smart, because, oh man, he doesn’t even get it!

  6. Sean

      On Douchebags

      Like “douchebag,” “hipster” was a name that no one could apply to oneself. But the opportunity to call someone else a “douchebag”: that offered the would-be hipster a means of self-identification by a name one could say, looking outward. In the douchebag, the hipster had found its Other.

  7. reynard

      i hate you, sean

  8. deadgod

      I thought the Other of “hipster” was ‘yuppie’

      maybe “hipster” and “yuppie” and “douche bag” are the three legs of a Root-Milking Stool

      – the Stool of Exudescent Constipation

  9. deadgod

      I thought the Other of “hipster” was ‘yuppie’

      maybe “hipster” and “yuppie” and “douche bag” are the three legs of a Root-Milking Stool

      – the Stool of Exudescent Constipation

  10. jtc

      exudescent? can’t even goog.

  11. jtc


  12. jtc


  13. Anonymous
  14. Anonymous

      i hate you

  15. Anonymous

      i am def an asshole under that logic, & loving it

  16. L L

      “Rampant douchebaggery” has been in my vernacular for a while now. It’s fun.

  17. Anon

      what’s the mystery? men think vaginas (and anything having to do with them) are gross. it seems like the enthusiasm for this word is pretty much 100% male. i wonder why.

  18. Franklin Goodish

      um, I don’t think all of them are gross

  19. Franklin Goodish

      Can someone here PLEASE explain the mystery of “Blinded by the Light”? Isn’t he saying “blinded by the douche”? Is the singer a d-bag?

  20. Russ
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  22. christopher.