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A gag is usually an item or device designed to prevent speech, often as a restraint device to stop the subject from calling for help and keep its wearer silent. This is usually done by blocking the mouth, partially or completely, or attempting to prevent the tongue, lips, or jaw from moving in the normal patterns of speech. The more "effective" a gag appears to be, the more hazardous it is. For example duct tape is a fairly effective method of keeping a person's mouth shut but can be hazardous if the subject cannot breathe freely through the nose (for example if they have the common cold). For this reason, a gagged person should never be left alone.

The use of gags is commonly depicted in soap operas and crime fiction, particularly in comics and novels. It is also often used in movies, such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and its sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Courts have been known to gag certain people. Major civil rights activist Bobby Seale is one example, the practice has been criticized as inhumane.

Occasionally a cloth over-the-mouth-and-nose gag is used not to prevent speech but to keep dust and aerosols out of the lungs. This was done more often in early times in the chemical industry.

Types of gags

One type of gag familiar in fiction, particularly in crime comics and novels, is a suitably sized piece of cloth pulled over the subject's mouth and tied at the back of their head. It is sometimes called the "detective gag" because many of its first appearances were in crime serials.

Sometimes a gag is pushed back between the victim's front teeth into the mouth, or with a hard ball in its middle or reinforced by pushing small cloth items into the mouth. This is common in BDSM, but in practice these sorts of gag can usually be got rid of by working the jaws about and/or pushing with the tongue, and they often do not stop the victim from making a loud inarticulate noise to call for help.

Often adhesive tapes are used for improvised gags. A tape gag can cause the skin on the lips to be damaged in its removal or the adhesive can cause chemical burns or reactions.

See also


  1. A device to restrain speech, such as a rag in the mouth secured with tape or a rubber ball threaded onto a cord or strap.
  2. An order or rule forbidding discussion of a case or subject.
  3. A joke or other mischievous prank.
  4. A convulsion of the upper digestive tract.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Gag" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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