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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Aug 17 18:09:58 UTC 2005

Not that the subject comes up frequently, but I've known more than one person who insisted that "pussy-cat" refers only to female cats, being the complementary term to "tomcat."

Nuance not in OED.


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: pussy," adj. = weak; effeminate; cowardly; unmanly; soft or
easy eno

At 12:52 PM -0400 8/17/05, Alice Faber wrote:
>Fred Shapiro wrote:
>>On Wed, 17 Aug 2005, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>>Actually, the overtly sexual "pussy" is solidly attested from the late
>>>19th C.

Farmer & Henley (in their volume V, 1902) include under PUSS, sense 3:
(venery) The female pudendum; see MONOSYLLABLE [for hundreds of
synonyms]: also PUSSY and PUSSY-CAT.; Fr., CHAT; ANGORA.

Interestingly, "pussy-cat" is often used now precisely to
short-circuit the taboo homonymy noted below.
(What a nice pussy#(cat) you have!)

>>>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" ?)
>>My wife frequently addresses our two cats as "puddies." It may be that
>>she is consciously or subconsciously avoiding the double-entenderish
>Maybe it's just a relic of whatever cartoon that was with "I tought I
>taw a putty tat".

Tweety, re Sylvester


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