Why is Gonorrhea Called the Clap: The History?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is sometimes called the clap. The origin of this nickname is not known, however, in this article, we’ll answer the question ‘why is Gonorrhea called the Clap: the history?

Why is Gonorrhea Called the Clap: The History?

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that affects men and women equally. Men are more likely than women to experience symptoms of the disease.

The infection is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also known as the gonococcus, which is spread via vaginal, oral, and anal sex and infects the penis, rectum, vagina, eyes, and throat.

Read below to know why Gonorrhea is called the Clap: the history.

What is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is an infection caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium, which likes to take up residence in mucous membranes.

It spreads through vaginal, oral, and anal sex (as well as during birth) and can infect the penis, vagina, throat, rectum, and eyes. Genital infections are most common, but oral gonorrhea is a growing concern.

In 10 to 15% of men (and up to 80% of women), gonorrhea has no symptoms (NYSDH, 2006). But it can also cause painful urination, a pus-like discharge, or pain or swelling in one testicle.

Oral gonorrhea might cause a sore throat. Symptoms usually show up between 1 and 10 days after infection.

Left untreated, it can cause a testicular infection in men, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, and in rare cases, spread to the blood and joints.

Reasons why Gonorrhea is Called the Clap

There are a few theories behind why gonorrhea is referred to as The Clap STD, check them here:

1. It was Named after the Red Light District in Paris

The most likely origin of the nickname was “Les Clapiers,” a medieval-era brothel district in Paris.

It literally translates to “rabbit huts,” referring to the small rooms in which prostitutes serviced their customers.

It Came from an Archaic English Word

Some etymologists think that “the clap” might have evolved from “clappan,” an Old English word meaning “to beat” or “to throb.”

This likely reflected gonorrhea’s symptoms, which can include burning, itching, or pain.


It was Named for an Early Method of Treatment

In 1857, the cause of gonorrhea was found to be a bacterium.

After the discovery of penicillin in 1928, it has been treatable with antibiotics (although we do not use penicillin to treat it).

But before then, therapies were just a little bit more invasive. One treatment involved injecting mercury, silver or another anti-bacterial agent into the urethra.

Some clinicians might have pressed their hands on the penis to ensure the medication would get where it needed to go.

Another, more spurious claim is that men who couldn’t avail themselves of medical treatments would clap their hands on the penis or slam it between heavy objects in an attempt to clear the discharge.  

Because this would have done nothing to eliminate the gonorrhea bacteria, the results were less than stellar. 

But the vivid nature of the treatment ensured “the clap” would endure.

What are the Symptoms of Gonorrhea?

Many people have no symptoms of gonorrhea, so it is important to see a doctor for diagnosis if you experience any symptoms. 

Symptoms of gonorrhea in men and women include:

‣ Pain or burning sensation when urinating 

‣ Rectal discharge 

‣ Anal itching

‣ Painful bowel movements

‣ Anal soreness

‣ Bleeding from the rectum

‣ Constipation

‣ Abnormal vaginal discharge

‣ Vaginal itching 

‣ Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods

‣ Milky, yellow, or green discharge from the penis

‣ Pain and swelling in one testicle (less common).

What Causes Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is caused by the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria and it is spread from person to person during oral, vaginal, or anal sex.

Pregnant women infected with gonorrhea can pass the infection on to their babies during childbirth.

What Is the Treatment for Gonorrhea?

A one-time injection of the antibiotic ceftriaxone into the muscle is used to treat gonorrhea.

Because re-infection is common, sexual partners should also be treated for gonorrhea, and patients should be tested for gonorrhea three months after treatment for the initial infection.

Sex should be avoided until both the patient and his or her partner have received treatment.


The more frequently used slang for gonorrhea is “the clap.” Unlike “the drip,” the reason why people say “the clap” is less certain. However, the article gives an answer to the question: why is Gonorrhea called the Clap: history? We believe the above information has satisfied your quest, please kindly share this content on all social media platforms.

CSN Team.

Similar Posts