A Brief History of ‘Times’ Genitalia

As you enjoyed your morning coffee yesterday, you might have noticed something unusual dangling from your Sunday Times. In the bottom-left corner of the front page, books reporter Julie Bosman offered this lede, about a controversial kids’ book: “The word ‘scrotum’ does not often come up in polite conversation. Or children’s literature, for that matter.” Scrotum?! On the front page of the Times? Mon dieu! (See what happens when they let Al Siegal retire?) We figured it had to be unprecedented, so we headed to Nexis for confirmation. Here’s what we learned.

Scrotum” has in fact made 96 appearances in the Times since 1970, although apparently without a single showing between October 6, 1970, and November 7, 1980. (“Penis,” by contrast, arose more than 1,200 times since 1977.) A mere eight of the “scrotum” citations appeared in lede sentences, but one of those, from last April, seems to have beaten Bosman’s citation to the status of Rosetta “Scrotum.” In a dispatch from Haiti on lymphatic filariasis, a tropical disease that causes a grossly enlarged scrotum, science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. got “scrotum” onto A1. Bosman — who we should note is a friend of Daily Intel’s — can take some solace, though: She made it to “scrotum” in three words; McNeil needed 33. And now we’re now done talking about Times scrota.