Why call it pussy?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by aaqucnaona, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

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    Why is a vagina refered to as a pussy? How did it begin? We are so familiar with the reference that its not obvious to us that its actually quite a strange name to call a vagina - there is really no connection! So how did it get to be this way?
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  2. kx000 Valued Senior Member

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    Idk, but we can call it something else tomorrow and confuse everyone a little more. Slang is out of control.
     
  3. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

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    Because sometimes the cat gets your tongue.
     
  4. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    It's probably a borrowed Dutch or Old Norse word poes meaning "pocket" or "pouch," with the diminutive -y ending added. Our word "purse" comes from the same Proto-Germanic root.

    It was probably reinforced by "puss" for "cat," in the sense of something soft, warm and furry. The French word chat is sometimes used this way. Although "puss" was once a British word for "rabbit" and using it for "cat" is a bit of a neologism, similar words meaning "cat" occur in the other Germanic languages.

    It may be onomatopoetic, representing the hissing noise cats make, since it also occurs in other languages, from Romania to Lithuania to Afghanistan.

    The slang word "puss" meaning "face" is from Irish pus, meaning lip or mouth.
     
  5. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    I thought it was from the Latin meaning: "Reason why I spend all my money, and bother to bathe". :)
     
  6. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    FYI, the equivalent slang word to "pussy" in some other languages (including Spanish) literally means "rabbit."
     
  7. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

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    If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say out of all the other slang names it's been called nothing else comes as close to expressing that cute warm and fuzzy feeling in quite the same way. I'm betting if someone compiled a list of all slang names for vagina and then asked people to vote for their favorite. Pussy would be way ahead of whatever is in second place.:D
     
  8. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

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    How long has the slang been in common usage? And how do slangs form? They arent like normal new words adopted from other languages, sometimes they are combined or changed from the same language or sometimes they are invented. How do they spread?

    And why is a word like fuck offensive? I can understand most other PC words [Cunt, nigger, etc] but why fuck and shit? As a teen, I and my friends use these two words quite regularly and normally, I dont get why they are so bad - they just mean sex and poop!
     
  9. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    What I've always heard In Mexican Spanish is panocha, which literally means "ear of corn." Can anybody figure that one out?

    I've always been impressed by the richness of profanity in other languages, compared to English with our "seven dirty words"--which keep being rehabilitated and require constant replacement. You can now call someone a "dick" or a "pussy" in prime time TV, and although "asshole" and "bullshit" aren't quite there yet, you hear women tossing those words around in business meetings.

    The Spanish insult roughly equivalent to the moderate offensiveness of "asshole" is pendejo, but it literally means "pubic hair"!
    If you mean "pussy," it appears to have been around for more than a thousand years. If you mean the whole phenomenon of slang, it goes back into the mists of time, surely long before the technology of writing was invented. The Romans had it.
    Not all "normal" new words are adopted from other languages. English, like all the Germanic languages, has a powerful word-building mechanism. You can cram almost any two words together, and if people understand you, you've been successful: doghouse, freeway.

    Scientists, engineers and other professionals coin acronyms like laser for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation." (Today people often use "acronym" and "abbreviation" interchangeably, but an acronym is pronounced as a word whereas an abbreviation is pronounced as the names of the individual letters. NASA and NATO are acronyms; IRS and UK are abbreviations. USA, pronounced Yoo-Ess-Ay, is an abbreviation. But in Hungary it's an acronym, pronounced OO-sha.)

    People sometimes just make words up at random and if they sound good they may catch on: humongous, rambunctious.

    But indeed scholars create words out of roots from other languages. Petroleum, from the Latin words for stone and oil. Telephone, from the Greek words for distance and sound. Sometimes laymen borrow suffixes or prefixes. After the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, it became cool to add -nik to words to taint them with hints of communism, like "peacenik."
    This goes back to an earlier era when people had manners. It was not polite to talk about sexual intercourse or bodily functions in public or in mixed company. So the words for sexual intercourse and bodily functions were considered rude. Both "fuck" and "shit" are venerable old Anglo-Saxon words with cognates throughout the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. The Germans say Scheiß and the Danes say skid.

    But back to your original question. Slang comes and goes. The whole point of slang is to be clever and interesting. Once it becomes established it is neither of those things. So a slang word will either prove its usefulness and become established as an ordinary word, or it will fade away.
    Indeed. As noted earlier, the original meaning was pocket or pouch.
    We all seem to agree.
     
  11. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    Note that "asshole" is not, actually, among the "seven dirty words."

    The word for the latter type there is "initialisms." "Abbreviations" is a general term that includes both types (and any other method of shortening a word).
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Dictionary.com disagrees. It defines "initialism" the way you define "abbreviation."
     
  13. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you. Excellent post! I know this is getting off topic now, but why did the west in old times [or many third world places even today] consider it offensive to speak about bodily functions? Were they just squirmish? Did they disapprove due to religious reasons? Or was it considered to be the case that not speaking such things in general conversation would deter people for partaking in socially inappropriate behaviour?
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The word is "squeamish": prudish, dainty, or easily disgusted.
    This is outside the realm of linguistics. You'll need to ask the people in Human Science or History.

    But even in modern America, where one could easily reach the conclusion that the Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964, the gigantic postwar generation) have overturned all vestiges of traditional morality in behavior and entertainment, most adults still do not talk about excretory functions or sexual intercourse in public or with strangers.
     
  15. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

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    Damn, I have been using those two words interchangably my whole life and no one ever bothered to tell me I was wrong!

    Will do.
     
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Only one word. There's no such word as "squirmish."
     
  17. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    My thoughts are that the word may be related to the proclivity of the domestic feline and a metaphor of similar conduct in humans.

    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/on the prowl

    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/on the prowl
     
  18. Xotica Everyday I’m Shufflin Registered Senior Member

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    Men are dogs. Women are cats ;)

    [​IMG]
     
  19. keith1 Guest

    Soft, easy, push-over, scared, gay, limp.

    It's macho sexism.
     

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