pussy," adj. = weak; effeminate; cowardly; unmanly; soft or easy eno

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Aug 17 14:45:51 UTC 2005

Actually, the overtly sexual "pussy" is solidly attested from the late 19th  C.  Your cite does show just how pervasive it had become by 1960.  (When was the last time you heard a non-child refer to a "kitty" as a "pussy" ?)

It's the adj./n. relating to weakness and cowardice that I'm asking about.

Of course, any pre-1960 *printed* exx. of the pudendal synonym that you may have lying around would be of interest simply because they're so rare.


"James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "James A. Landau"
Subject: Re: pussy," adj. = weak; effeminate; cowardly; unmanly; soft or
easy eno

In a message dated Tue, 16 Aug 2005 08:05:35 -0700, Jonathan Lighter
_wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM_ (mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM) writes:

>3. In 1969, the word becomes common in print, presumably owing to the
relaxed attitude
>toward publishing previously taboo language.
> a. The sources strongly suggest that the word, so used, originated in
>English. Comments ?
> b. Can anyone offer strong testimonial evidence that they were
quite familiar with >the adj. before the late 1960s ?

George N. Allen _Undercover Teacher_ np: Doubleday, 1960, ASIN: B0007DW8ZK
the author, describing his experiences teaching in a New York City public
school (I don't have the book available and don't remember the grade he was
teaching) describes reading "The Owl and the Pussycat" to his students and
having them react to the double-entendre on the word "pussy". Hence the sexual
meaning of "pussy" was widespread among New York teenagers by 1960. It is most
likely that Allen's class was racially integrated, which certainly does not
rule out that this meaning of "pussy" came from Black English.

Totally OT: I just discovered that New Jersey has a Downe Township.

- James A. Landau

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