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

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Thu Aug 18 15:56:58 UTC 2005

Larry writes:
I think it goes with many folks' sense that all cats are "she" unless
proven "he".   As far as animals go, though, a bunch of them have the
female designation as unmarked/default:  goose (vs. gander), duck
(vs. drake) as well as "cow".

I can't give you the citation, but I recall some discussion years ago --
maybe many years ago, when I was in graduate school! -- and probably a paper
or squib asserting that when there is a default sex designation, it's
usually for the sex which has the most economic value for us. For example,
we value domestic fowl for their eggs and cattle for their milk, so "duck
[drake], goose [gander], cow [bull]". (Is it reasonable to suppose that beef
cattle are generally raised on large ranches, and these terms originated in
a milieu of small family farms?) That doesn't apply to "cat" and "dog",

-- Mark
[This text prepared with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.]

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