/kon"deuhm, kun"-/, n.a thin sheath, usually of very thin rubber, worn over the penis during sexual intercourse to prevent conception or sexually transmitted disease.[1700-10; of obscure orig., but popularly supposed to have been named after an 18th-century English physician, who allegedly devised it]
* * *contraceptive device consisting of a sheath that fits over the penis and that is intended to prevent the escape of semen into the vagina. It is made of very thin, flexible rubber or a rubberlike plastic (latex). The condom has long been used as protection against venereal infections and other sexually transmitted diseases, and by the 17th century it was utilized as a contraceptive as well. Early condoms were generally made of animal gut or fish membrane and were often inefficient. Legend is confused on the origin of the term condom—one story telling of a man named Condom devising such a contraceptive for Charles II of England. Since the 1840s most condoms have been made of vulcanized rubber or, since the 1930s, of latex. At first they were usually washable but now are generally disposable and slightly lubricated. Efficient, convenient, but still disliked for its dulling of physical sensation, the condom fails mainly because of irregular use. It is an effective form of protection against a broad range of sexually transmitted diseases. See contraception.
* * *