A Brief History of the Word ‘Pussy’

A Brief History of the Word ‘Pussy’

Image for postCalico cat lying on white comforter. Photo by Anton Lochov on Unsplash. Photo description: A calico cat lies on a white comforter.

Words have lives of their own. They morph and change, become monsters or saints. One year?s vulgarity is the next year?s buzz word and vice versa.

Few works reflect the changing attitudes towards words quite like erotic and pornographic literature. It is when dealing with taboos that we truly get to the nitty gritty of certain words. It is when we strip away clothes and pretence that we learn the naked truth of our vocabulary.

Pussy: Which Meaning Came First?

Pussy is nowadays used less in everyday office conversations and more in erotic or pornographic works. It is also often used as an insult. But what is unclear is which meaning came first.

Pussy is commonly accepted as an old-fashioned word for a cat, and this meaning is normally considered as the original meaning of the word. The use of pussy can be traced back to 1726 and can be seen as a diminutive form of the word ?puss?, meaning cat.

But, pussy was being used to to refer to women and girls as far back as the 1580s. The difference though was that it was used as an affectionate way to speak about a woman and girl, and did not seem to be a reference to a vagina. Pussy was also used to refer to men with womanly or girlish qualities.

Pussy: ?Soft, warm, furry thing?

Pussy as reference to a vagina can be traced back to around 1879, but it could be argued that it was actually used long before the 1800s. It could have its roots in the old Norse word ?puss?, which means a pouch, or in the Low German word ?puse?, which means vulva.

Pussy could also have gained its meaning from comparing a woman?s vagina to a cat. A vagina, like a cat, could be described as a ?soft, warm, furry thing?. Moving away from the Germanic languages, the Romance language French also uses ?le chat? or ?the cat? to describe a cat or genitals.

It is noted though that the word pussy in reference to a vagina is absent from many works from before the 1900s. This means that it was probably not used as a word for a women?s vagina before this time, and was used instead as a term of endearment or in reference to a cat.

The Climax

Pussy like ?cunt? has a contested history. It seems like most words that nowadays are used to describe genitals or sex started off life with different meanings. As always, use words carefully in your writing and in your speech. Unlike what the old school songs says, words can really hurt you and other people.

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