I Don’t Want To Spend This Much Time On Kisses. How About You?

Humans engage in a series of loving behaviors, including hugs, kisses, handshakes, and cranks. But one of the most curious couplings is the so-called “French kiss”, where the languages of two people come in contact, probably for purposes of sexual stimulation. French kisses are a well-established expression of love in many cultures of the world, but the first person who tried it must have been brave enough. Who was this person?

References to open mouth kisses appear in several ancient texts, and the first mention appears in Sanskrit works around 1500 BC. C. [source: Kirshenbaum, the daily beast]. In the famous text of Kama Sutra of the third century of our era, the places on the body designated for kissing include the lips and the inside of the mouth, suggesting that at that time the kiss was practiced with the tongue in India [source: Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana].

One hypothesis for the evolution of kisses with the tongue is that they are a natural consequence of feeding offspring in mammalian populations [source: Lorenzi]. However, this does not explain why this practice has been adopted in some human societies but not in others. There are many examples in the world of human communities who had never heard of embracing the language before coming into contact with Europeans and who were upset by the suggestion itself [source: Foer].

Due to the widespread practice of kisses in Europe, we can thank the Romans who described the kisses in three ways: the osculum (a friendly kiss on the cheek), the basio (a more erotic kiss on the lips) and the savium (the most common). Passionate about kisses in the mouth) [source: Lorenzi]. In Roman society, when, where and how you kissed someone was an important indicator of social status.

The term “French kiss” was probably invented by US and British forces in France during the First World War, who noted that Gallic women were more willing to use erotic technique than their American counterparts [source: Kirshenbaum]. Thus, although the French were clearly not the first to participate in French kisses, it just seems that they deserve to be credited because of the amorous enthusiasm of French lovers a century ago.

Interestingly, the French had no specific word for their famous export until very recently. The verb galocher, defined as “kissing in tongues”, was added to the French dictionary Le Petit Robert in 2014 [source: Neuman]. However, appearing in this popular but unofficial dictionary does not grant any collection of letters the references of an appropriate French word; Galocher is not mentioned in the Académie française, the 378-year-old French language regulator [source: Dewey].

French Kisses is so popular today that a team of Japanese researchers has invented a French kissing machine, in which separated couples can connect using computer-like straw-like devices. [source: Yin] It’s an awesome dedication to a remote relationship.

On the basis of these facts, it is clear that kisses in French have not started in France. However, it is also clear that we have the open heart (and mouth) of French lovers in the early 20th century to thank the term. Thank you so much!

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