Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Sep 23 18:59:21 UTC 2009

On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 2:30 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> At 10:39 AM -0700 9/23/09, James A. Landau wrote:
> >cougar = a woman who dates/sleeps with/marries a much younger man
> >(or in the case of Ellen DeGeneres, a much younger woman).
> >
> >This term seems to be popular now (i.e. in the last couple of
> >weeks)---Monday "Entertainment Tonight" ran a lengthy segment on
> >Hollywood's 5 top cougars, complete with feline metaphors.  However
> >I cannot recall ever having seen it before that.  Is it a new term
> >or is it my usual disconnect from pop culture?
> Probably a bit of both, although as you say there's a cougar
> explosion this new TV season.  This week's premieres include "Cougar
> Town" with Courteney Cox (ex of "Friends") on ABC, "Eastwick" (after
> the Updike novel and Jack Nicholson et al. movie) on ABC, both
> tonight if anyone wants to do research (I guess it's a sign of my age
> when I realize Ms. Cox counts as an older woman.)  Here's a piece in
> today's Times on the phenomenon:

"Cougar" got a lot of media exposure in '07, both on TV (the competitive reality
show "Age of Love," pitting "kittens" against "cougars") and film ("Cougar
Club," with Faye Dunaway and Carrie Fisher as the titular felines). That year
"cougar" was the runner-up for the New Oxford American Dictionary's Word of the

Also from '07, see Grant Barrett's discussion in his (Malaysian) _Star_ column
(which dates the term to '01):

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list