A codpiece (Middle English
codpece: cod, bag, scrotum (from Old
English codd, bag) + pece, piece) is
a flap or pouch that attaches to the front
of the crotch of men's
to provide a covering for the genitals.
It would be held closed by string ties,
or other methods.
At one time, it was
an important item of European
in the 15th and 16th centuries.
At first, the codpiece was entirely a
practical matter of modesty. Men's
typically very snug on the legs and open
at the crotch, with the genitalia simply
hanging loose under the
A shortening of the doublet resulted in
often-exposed genitalia, so the codpiece
came into being (there are other versions
of the origin of the codpiece).
As time passed, codpieces were shaped
to emphasize the male genitalia and eventually
often became padded and bizarrely shaped.
They also often doubled as
handy carrying places for a variety of items.
The lead singer of 80s music group
Cameo famously wore a large, bright-red
codpiece in all of his performances. Also,
Alex and his gang members from
Anthony Burgess' book
A Clockwork Orange (and later
Stanley Kubrick's movie adaptation)