6 Famous Symbols That Don't Mean What You Think

#5. The Heart Symbol Is About Birth Control (and Balls)

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It's one of the most ubiquitous symbols on the planet, appearing everywhere from cards to candy to jewelery to bikers' tattoos. The common heart shape is such a part of everyday life, in fact, that it's easy to overlook the fact that it actually looks nothing whatsoever like a heart. What's with that?

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"My love for you is like a kidney, in that it filters out the bad stuff, like that time you had sex with that bitch Mandy."

Well, there's some pretty convincing evidence that it was never supposed to be a heart in the first place, but rather ...

The Origin:

A contraceptive from the Roman era.

If you trace the heart symbol back as far as you can, you wind up finding it on old Roman coins, like this one:

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So yeah. Hallmark cards and industrial-scale slavery have the same origin.

But that's not supposed to be someone's cardiac muscle. That's the seedpod of the silphium plant, a herb so prized for its birth control capabilities that the Romans literally fucked it to extinction.

But while it existed, depictions of its seeds were widespread across the Roman Empire, to the point where it appeared on their money. To get a proper grasp of how much the Romans liked to hide the sausage, imagine if the Founding Fathers had printed a picture of a condom on the dollar bill.


The conspiracy theories would be a lot more entertaining.

Historians aren't absolutely certain that this was the origin of the symbol we use today, rather than some crazy coincidence, but it beats our best alternative theory, which is "Damned if we know." If true, then the universal symbol for love began as the universal symbol for hard dicking, which kind of makes your Mother's Day card a little awkward.

We can still trump that, though. See, the Romans did liken the shape of the silphium plant to a bodily organ, but it wasn't the heart. To see the original design, you have to flip the image upside-down.

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And imagine it dangling above your face after getting ganked in, oh, any shooter ever.

That's right. The box of candies you bought your girlfriend for Valentine's Day is actually a bunch of multicolored, dangling nutsacks.

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