When was the first time a well-known word or phrase was used in print? explores the history and origins of famous people and places, and of popular phrases, companies,
brand names, products and ideas, along with familiar words and sayings.

Cleavage and the Code

…Wicked Lady, a 1945 picture starring Margaret Lockwood, James Mason and Patricia Roc, was a big moneymaker in England. But the U.S. will have to wait to see it. Low-cut Restoration costumes worn by the Misses Lockwood and Roc display too much “cleavage” (Johnston Office trade term for the shadowed depression dividing an actress’ bosom into two distinct sections). The British, who have always considered bare legs more sexy than half-bare breasts, are resentfully reshooting several costly scenes.

Time magazine August 5, 1946

The language in Time Magazine must have been shockingly blunt for its day. The following year, the term cleavage was still being introduced to readers in a most gingerly fashion, as can be seen from this 1947 Washington Post article.

One of the Wicked Ladies of the film did show a fair amount of cleavage, apparently as she was awaiting the guillotine.

But enough about cleavage, breasts, bosoms, decolletage and plunging necklines. What I really want to know is: what sort of ads will pulled up by these particular keywords????


Our FirstMention research is carried out in many sources, including historical newspaper archives, online family history records, state archives, and old books.