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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Aug 17 18:56:44 UTC 2005

In that case, then, the "+ female" term would be the default designation. Unusual.

The same would be true of "kitty-cat."  No it wouldn't.


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 11:09 AM -0700 8/17/05, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>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.

I would think at most it's a privative opposition, in that if you
didn't know the sex it could still be a pussy-cat, or if there was a
house full of kitties of assorted sexes they could be described as a
bunch of pussy-cats, but once you knew of a given one that it was
male it would be a tom-cat. So it's a bit like "cow" vs. "bull" or,
in the other direction, like "lion" vs. "lioness".


>Laurence Horn 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
>Yahoo! Mail
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