"puss" in Icelandic ? Swedish ?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Aug 30 11:55:09 UTC 2005

This "fud" business suggests that if "puss/ pussy" is an ancient survival, and if it came into English via the Danelaw, and if Scots writers such as Dunbar, Burns, and "Claudero" were familiar with it, then they should have had no misgivings about using it.

But we have no record that they did. (The word's absence from Burns's uncensored _Merry Muses_ is especially significant.)

This inclines me further to the belief that the English words (mostly recorded in the south, n.b.) are really just late animal metaphors.

Make sense ?


Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Benjamin Zimmer
Subject: Re: "puss" in Icelandic ? Swedish ?

On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 01:04:24 -0400, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

>>If it's truly cognate, then it's an incredible survival from Old
>>English, no ?
>MW3's etymology for this "fud": <
>Old Norse _futh_ vulva, Norwegian dialect _fud_ buttocks; akin to Middle
>High German _vut_ vulva ....>>. Seems reasonable to me. Is/was there a
>cognate in Old English? I don't know, my OED doesn't give one; but even
>if there is/was it may not have been an ancestor of modern Scots "fud".
>I suppose, perhaps naively, that the lineage might be Norse > Scots >
>Ozarkian, with Anglo-Saxon bypassed.
>BTW, my OED and MW3 show the "arse" and "[rabbit-]tail" senses but not the
>"female pudendum" sense.

That sense didn't get added to the OED till 2002, though it's attested
back to 1771.


fud, n.1

* Chiefly Sc. The pubic hair (esp. of a woman); cf. sense 2. Also: the
female genitals. Now coarse slang.

1771 ‘CLAUDERO’ Hen-peckt Carter in Misc. Prose & Verse 95 Each hair of
her fud is the length of a span, What fud can compare to the fud of
Joan? 1835 D. WEBSTER Rhymes 24 Ye could hae seen in curious cases,
Their bits o' fuds. 1937 E. PARTRIDGE Dict. Slang, Fud, the pubic hair:
coll. when not Scottish or dial. 1995 D. MCLEAN Bunker Man 23 It really
looked like the cock was firing off into a big square fud.

--Ben Zimmer

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