National Roach Day

Close-up of a beautifully decorated cake shaped like a cheerful roach, surrounded by colorful confetti and party decorations..
National roach day illustration

Hold onto your trotters because it's time to celebrate a day that is as unexpected as it is delightful. That's right, the internet has spoken and April 12th is National Roach Day! We know, we know. Bugs, really? But stick with us and we assure you, we've dug out some delightful roach-inspired nuggets that will surely pique your interest.

When is Roach Day?

It's national roach day on the 21st April.

A Date with Roaches

For those dauntless souls daring to delve into the unusual, National Roach Day is truly a day to remember. With some pretty cool facts and some truly dedicated fans leading the charge, this day is neither the big, scary insect, nor the pest you might be imagining right now.

Release the Roaches!

According to our data, the day got its first mention in popular culture within the cyberspace on April 21st, 2017. While we're not sure why it sparked an interest, we're guessing it was more than just a random quirk of the internet. Could it be a collection of entomologists having a field day online? Or, was it simply the eclectic wonder that is the world wide web? The mystery only adds to the fun.

Getting to Know the Unappreciated Insect

Many people's immediate reaction to roaches isn't too friendly - often involving immediate plans for their swift eradication. However, roaches play important ecological roles, aiding in the degradation of organic matter and recycling nutrients back into the soil.

History behind the term 'Roach'


The First Recorded Use

The term 'roach' finds its roots in the 1300s when it was first recorded in English. It came from the Old French word 'roche' which referred to a cockroach. The word 'roach' started being used to describe these insects that often infested houses and buildings, especially in urban areas.


Early Usage

The term 'roach' initially appeared in the English language during the 1400s. It was used to refer to a type of freshwater fish with a distinctive appearance, including a hooked and protruding upper lip. The fish is commonly found in European rivers and is known for its bottom-feeding habits.


The Origins of the Term 'Roach'

During the 1400s, the term 'roach' first appeared in English language as a noun to refer to a type of fish belonging to the carp family. This fish was characterized by its silver color, high body, and slightly concave forehead, resembling a cockroach, which eventually led to the adoption of the name 'roach' for this fish species.


Tiny bugs enter English

During the 9th century, the term 'roach' made its way into the English language. Initially, it referred to a type of fish called the 'roach,' which had a distinctive silvery color and an alleged propensity to eat smaller fish. This fish's name came from the Old English word 'rōc,' meaning 'a fish' or 'a kind of fish.'


The Introduction of the Word 'Roach'

The term 'roach' has its origins in the English language and dates back to the year 1225. It is derived from the Old French word 'roachis' and refers to a type of freshwater fish. The word was used to describe the fish known for its distinctive appearance and the characteristic hump on its back.


Variety of Meanings

During the 1600s, the term 'roach' started to take on broader meanings. In addition to referring to the insect, 'roach' also started being used as a slang term to describe a despicable person or scoundrel. This usage hinted at the negative perceptions and associations people had with cockroaches.


Cigarette Slang

In the early 1900s, a new usage of the term 'roach' emerged within the realm of smoking. It referred to the tiny leftover butt of a cigarette or cigar that remains after smoking. The reasoning behind the name was that the shape and appearance of the butt resembled that of a roach, echoing the hook-like lip of the fish.


Roach as an Insult

By the mid-16th century, the term 'roach' began to take on a different meaning. In 1549, it started being used as an insult to refer to a despicable or contemptible person. This derogatory sense of the word likely stems from the association of the roach fish's appearance with something unpleasant or repulsive.

Late 19th Century

Roach as a Verb for Smoking Marijuana

In the late 19th century, the term 'roach' started taking on a different meaning in certain subcultures. It began to be used as a verb to describe the smoking of the residual portion of a joint or cigarette, typically the smaller end that is left when all the tobacco or marijuana has been consumed. This usage was primarily associated with marijuana smoking.


Cockroaches take the spotlight

By the 16th century, the term 'roach' underwent a shift in meaning, becoming associated with a much different creature. European explorers encountered a cockroach species during their voyages to warmer regions, and it soon became commonly referred to as a 'roach.' This new usage of the term highlighted the notorious pest status of cockroaches, and it started to overshadow its original fish-related meaning.


Cannabis Connection

The term 'roach' took on an entirely new meaning in the 1800s. It became associated with the butt or end of a cannabis cigarette, also known as a joint. The 'roach' referred to the remaining part of the joint that was too small to smoke directly. This usage was popularized during the heyday of cannabis use in the counterculture movements of the time.

Mid-20th Century

Roach Clip Emerges

By the mid-20th century, the term 'roach' began to be associated with a small clamp or clip used to hold the end of a joint or cigarette to avoid burning one's fingers or lips. This device, known as a 'roach clip,' allowed the smoker to comfortably and safely consume the remains of the joint without wastage.


Roach as a Slang Term for Cigarette

In the 1920s, a new slang usage of the word 'roach' emerged. It became a common term among smokers, particularly in the United States, to refer to the end part of a smoked cigarette. This usage originated from the resemblance between the leftover cigarette butt and the humpback shape of the roach fish.


Roach as a slang term

In the 19th century, the term 'roach' expanded its reach and took on a slang connotation in English-speaking countries. In certain contexts, it referred to a cigarette or cigar that had been partially smoked but saved for later use. This sense of the word later became associated with the practice of saving the end part of a joint, also known as a marijuana cigarette, to be smoked later.


Marijuana Jargon

During the countercultural movement of the 1960s, the term 'roach' experienced another shift in meaning. It became associated with the burnt remains of a joint or a marijuana cigarette. Users would commonly save the small piece to be smoked later. The word 'roach' stuck due to its resemblance to the discarded butt of a smoked cigarette.


Roach as a Slang Term for Cigarette Butt

In the 1970s, the term 'roach' gained further popularity as a slang term to refer to the remnant of a smoked cigarette, specifically the butt end. It became common among smokers to use the term 'roach' to identify the leftover portion of a cigarette, irrespective of whether it contained tobacco or marijuana.


Roach Clip

By the 1970s, 'roach clip' entered the common lexicon. Smokers used a specialized clip or holder to hold the tiny remaining portion of a joint, preventing it from burning their fingers. The clip often featured decorative elements and became a symbol of the counterculture movement. The term 'roach' became closely associated with its use, further solidifying its connection to marijuana.


Roach as a Drug Reference

During the counterculture movement of the 1960s, the term 'roach' took on yet another meaning. It became associated with drug use, specifically marijuana. In this context, a 'roach' referred to the remaining part of a joint or a marijuana cigarette, which is often saved and smoked later.


Cigarette Filter Name

In the 1900s, the term 'roach' was adopted as the colloquial name for the filter found at the end of a cigarette. Cigarette filters were often made from a small piece of cardboard or a plastic-like material, and they were widely known as 'roaches.' This usage further expanded the term's meaning and association with smoking.


Roach in counter-culture movements

During the 20th century, 'roach' gained popularity within counter-culture movements, particularly in the realm of drugs. In the context of marijuana, a 'roach' referred to the small portion of a joint or blunt that remained after most of it had been smoked. The term also expanded to include the cardboard or paper mouthpiece used to hold the end of a joint to avoid burning one's lips. It became a symbol of drug culture and rebellion.

Present Day

Roach Referring to Cockroaches

In modern times, the term 'roach' expanded its meaning, with the primary association being cockroaches. While its earlier associations with fish and smoking remain, the word 'roach' is now more commonly associated with the ubiquitous insect, either as a specific type of cockroach or often used as a general term for any species of roach.

Present Day

Roach in Pop Culture

In modern times, the word 'roach' has found its way into popular culture and various creative mediums. It is often used in films, music, and literature to depict elements of counterculture, rebelliousness, or the drug subculture. The term 'roach' has become a significant part of slang vocabulary, extending its reach beyond its initial meanings.


Roach in modern usage

Today, the term 'roach' continues to have various meanings depending on the context. It can refer to cockroaches, the remnants of smoked cigarettes or joints, or even a person who is considered unpleasant or socially awkward. Its rich and varied history highlights the ever-evolving nature of language and how words can shift in meaning over time.


Slang Expression

In modern slang, 'roach' has taken on another meaning. It is used to describe the burnt end of a marijuana joint or cigarette. When the joint or cigarette burns down to the very end, it forms a 'roach' that can be challenging to smoke. This usage has become prominent in the cannabis culture and is commonly heard among marijuana enthusiasts today.

Did you know?

Although most people consider roaches pests, only about 30 out of the 4,500 species of roaches are associated with human habitats - well aren't you glad it's not all 4,500!


fun quirky unexpected entomology national_roach_day

First identified

21st April 2017

Most mentioned on

21st April 2017

Total mentions


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