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#1
Old 05-08-2005, 10:49 AM
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what does "pussy" mean in the expression, "Hey man, you're a pussy"

I was thinking about this the other day, and it seems to me that in the expression, "don't be a pussy," one could either be implying that the intended target of said barb is behaving like a pussy cat, i.e. a scaredy cat or in a genteel manner, like a small cat, or that they are behaving like a woman. I tend to think it is the former, and therefore not necessarily a horrible thing to say. However, if it is the latter, then not only is the comment making some unkind generalizations about all of womanhood, but it is replacing the whole with the part, further demoralizing/objectifying(?) women.

What sez you, Cat and o.k., or woman and clearly inappropriate?
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#2
Old 05-08-2005, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
What sez you, Cat and o.k., or woman and clearly inappropriate?
Cunt. Synecdoche for woman. Implies that object of insult is unmanly. Come on, you knew that. And yes, of course, it's disrespectful of women.
#3
Old 05-08-2005, 11:00 AM
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I've always understood it to mean don't be a girl, with the implication that girls are weak, timid, etc. As to whether or not that is apprpopriate, well discussing that would be inapprpopriate for this forum, which deals with factual answers to questions.
#4
Old 05-08-2005, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
behaving like a pussy cat, i.e. a scaredy cat or in a genteel manner, like a small cat . . .
You've never had a kitten, have you?
#5
Old 05-08-2005, 12:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
I was thinking about this the other day, and it seems to me that in the expression, "don't be a pussy," one could either be implying that the intended target of said barb is behaving like a pussy cat, i.e. a scaredy cat or in a genteel manner, like a small cat, or that they are behaving like a woman. I tend to think it is the former, and therefore not necessarily a horrible thing to say. However, if it is the latter, then not only is the comment making some unkind generalizations about all of womanhood, but it is replacing the whole with the part, further demoralizing/objectifying(?) women.

What sez you, Cat and o.k., or woman and clearly inappropriate?
It's the latter.

Stop pussyfooting around.
#6
Old 05-08-2005, 01:15 PM
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In case you need another response to convince you, calling someone a pussy is indeed saying they're acting like a woman. Not good.
#7
Old 05-08-2005, 01:24 PM
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My dictionary of American Slang says that pussy meant a "harmless person, either gentle or timid or both; =PUSSYCAT" by 1859. It also says that it was slang for the vagina, or a woman as a sex object, by 1879.
#8
Old 05-08-2005, 01:52 PM
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I've always wondered how it made the leap from cat to woman. Did lonely farmers with just their pets around started branding everything they could have sex with as a "pussy"?
#9
Old 05-08-2005, 01:56 PM
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It's another of those pejorative words that has undergone a change in meaning and useage over the years. In the language of the last 40 or more years it certainly implies that the target is woman-like, no question.

As others have cited, it almost certainly started out life as likening a woman to a pussycat in the 19th century or earlier. The phrase pussyfooting around, which appears around 1900, implied being timid, afraid, like a cat. No sense of woman there.

But pussy was in use in theater circles by the late 1940's to mean a homosexual male. Interesting how these terms morph from women to homosexual males, much like faggot.
#10
Old 05-08-2005, 02:47 PM
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My 1869 Dr. Oglivie's gives "pussy" as exclusively "diminuitive of 'puss', (irish & gaelic) - cat".

I have a mid-19th century Webster's that lists a sense of "a modest or retiring young woman."

Earlier dictionaries also give an adjectival sense of "Properly, inflated, swelled; hence, fat, short and thick; and as persons of this make labor in respiration, the word is used for short breathed." (Webster's 1826 at CTI) This has been altered into "pursy."

Gets into some strange loops there, because while being "pussy" in this sense implies a lack of vigor might be connected to the modern perjorative use of the word (though not likely), "pursy" has an equally tenuous connection to women's soft bits. ("Purse" has been a relatively common vulgur term for 'vagina,' especially in the context of prosititution, for a long, long time.)

Everything is probably too tangled up to get a definitive answer as to the exact connection (if any) that this use of "pussy" has to the slang for "vagina," but I think that those who are saying that it's obviously misogynist might be being a bit too hasty. I think that that may be more connotation than denotation.

Remember that "pusillanimous" had been in use for ages, with a closely connected meaning, for ages before "pussy" was used to refer to either naughty bits or milquetoasts.
Quote:
pusillanimous - a. little minded; faint-hearted; destitute of that strength of mind which constitutes courage; cowardly. L. pusus small boy + animus mind.
Personally, I think that "being a pussy" can be more closely connected to "pusillanimous" than to the vulgar sense of "pussy," since there's less abstraction involved. It doesn't seem too unreasonable to me to conjecture that "pusillanimous" might be shortened and altered into "pussy." "You pusillaminun-- pusilanim ass-- You pusil-- You damned pussy!"

Samclem, my 1940 Webster's has a strangely specific definition of "pussyfoot" and "pussyfooter" -- "advocate Prohibitionism" and "an advocate of Prohibition," respectively.
#11
Old 05-08-2005, 02:48 PM
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Calling someone a pussycat wasn't an insult, to my knowledge. It was an affectionate description of someone harmless and sweet.
#12
Old 05-08-2005, 03:49 PM
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Remember the Tom Jones pop tune, What's New, Pussycat? The reference there was obviously to a female in an affectionate sense.
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#13
Old 05-08-2005, 04:33 PM
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You are what you eat. I eat pussy, so I don't take it as an insult.
#14
Old 05-08-2005, 05:17 PM
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Thank you for the many responses. I would love to hear more. I especially appreciate those that researched and used actual data to come to an answer rather than jumping to the quickest and easiest conclusion without regard to the actual accuracy of their answers. Only by asking questions can the truth be revealed.

I am well aware that many regard the word as most distasteful; I was inquiring whether or not the disdain for the term was founded in etymology or simply a folk misunderstanding of the term. Along these same lines is the word niggardly. Does this word stem from the nasty “N” word, or do those that pause and in disbelief at the words usage suffer from a folk etymological misunderstanding of the term?
#15
Old 05-08-2005, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
Along these same lines is the word niggardly. Does this word stem from the nasty “N” word, or do those that pause and in disbelief at the words usage suffer from a folk etymological misunderstanding of the term?
Apples and oranges.

Your earlier question[pussy] has little to do with a misunderstanding of the term.

But niggardly doesn't come from the same origin as nigger. But folk misunderstanding DOES come into play there.
#16
Old 05-08-2005, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Apples and oranges.

Your earlier question[pussy] has little to do with a misunderstanding of the term.

But niggardly doesn't come from the same origin as nigger. But folk misunderstanding DOES come into play there.
But my earlier question does have something to do with a misunderstanding of the term and it is not apples and oranges if:

The reason people object to the use of the word pussy in regards to the OP is because it is the same as a “bad” word and/or they believe it to be a misogynous expression rather than a comparing of one to a cat or, as proposed by Larry Mudd, a derivative of pusillanimous.

This is directly similar to:

People often balk at the use of the word niggardly because it “sounds” like a “bad” word and/or they believe it to be a racist expression suggesting that all people of African decent are miserly. SDSTAFF "Hispanic-and-span" Ian explains this in the following column, https://academicpursuits.us/mailbag/mniggard.html

These two examples are very similar, maybe Navels and Valencia, but not “apples and oranges”.

To quote SDSTAFF "Hispanic-and-span" Ian from that same article,
Quote:
“The moral of the story is, this is what happens when people insist on relying on folk etymology and speculation. Howard was pressured to resign by people who, as columnist Tony Snow put it, "actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance." There are hundreds of words in English, or any language, that sound similar--or even identical--to others, but have completely unrelated origins and definition. Sure, you don't want to offend anyone deliberately, but there's a fine line between not being a jerk and examining every word you speak for nuances that might be misinterpreted by people who don't understand them. If there's one thing the Straight Dope has taught me, political correctness should always take a back seat to actual correctness.”
#17
Old 05-08-2005, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
Your earlier question[pussy] has little to do with a misunderstanding of the term.
I don't think that's entirely so. Certainly the word carries a strong connotation that can lead people to associate it with "female," and should probably (as a matter of style) be avoided unless the speaker is comfortable with that, but there is no evidence to suggest that the "coward" sense of "pussy" is derived from the "female genitals" sense of pussy.

We're getting into the territory of begging-the-question, here. Well, maybe not quite, but look at the steps that are necessary to claim that intimating that someone is weak by calling them a "pussy" is misogynist:

"Bob is a pussy because he won't go bungee-jumping with all the other guys on the bowling team."

This is misogynist because:
  • "Pussy" is a slang term meaning "vagina."
  • Only women have vaginas.
  • Weakness or cowardice is a property that is sometimes assigned to women.
  • By calling someone a "pussy," something that only women have, you are implying that the person is like a woman in their cowardice, and by extension assigning that property to all women.

It's a bit tortured, given that a literal pussy is a weak and timid creature. "You are a pussy," therefore, is a natural thing to say to someone who is perceived as weak and timid -- without any reference to genitals. "You are a pussy," in order to be understood as misogynist, has to be abstracted ridiculously: "'You are X,' X being in one sense a property that Y possesses, is meant to mean 'You are like Y,' and implies that all Y possess property Z." Hogwash.

This is very much the same sort of thing that's going on with "niggardly" -- the only difference is that the word isn't a direct homophone.

If the word "pussy" came into general use in the sense of "timid person" by analogy with kittens, or by corruption of "pusillanimous," (both of which seem more direct and probable than anything relating to genitals,) then it's exactly the same sort of misunderstanding. "That's a slur against this entire class of people!" when the origin has absolutely nothing to do with said class.

In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Eva's father's pet name for her was "pussy." Do we assume that his nickname is derived from the germanic word meaning "vagina," and that he's a dirty old man, or do we consider that he's using the gaelic-derived homophone, meaning kitty-cat? He must be talking about genitals, right? Eva has a vagina, but she's not feline in any way. Obvious!

Why is an equally weak (or perhaps weaker) argument that the derogative "pussy" is derived from the germanic "puss" as opposed to the gaelic "puss" accepted by some as obvious?

You might just as well argue that the medical sense of "pussy" is misogynist, since "pussy" is a slang term for women's genitals and the word equates all forms of seeping infection with gynecological problems. Better not say that your head-wound is "pussy," because women have vaginas which are sometimes called "pussies" and which sometimes become infected. Obviously, calling a stinky, oozing wound "pussy" implies that all women have stinking, oozing wounds between their legs.

Except that this sense of "pussy" has nothing to do with that sense of "pussy," and neither have anything to do with the other sense of "pussy."

I bought some fish sticks the other day, and do you know that those Francophones call 'em "poisson?" Can you believe the nerve of them? What an insult to women! Obviously, they're implying that women have a fishy smell, and of course that's not true at all.

Wait a minute, I'm being silly, aren't I? Sorry, it's infectious.
#18
Old 05-08-2005, 09:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
I was thinking about this the other day, and it seems to me that in the expression, "don't be a pussy," one could either be implying that the intended target of said barb is behaving like a pussy cat, i.e. a scaredy cat or in a genteel manner, like a small cat, or that they are behaving like a woman. I tend to think it is the former, and therefore not necessarily a horrible thing to say. However, if it is the latter, then not only is the comment making some unkind generalizations about all of womanhood, but it is replacing the whole with the part, further demoralizing/objectifying(?) women.

What sez you, Cat and o.k., or woman and clearly inappropriate?
Just an attempt to "legitimately" talk about pussy. Seems to me kind of passive aggressive, or perhaps just yellow-bellied and lily-livered.
#19
Old 05-08-2005, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
I especially appreciate those that researched and used actual data to come to an answer rather than jumping to the quickest and easiest conclusion without regard to the actual accuracy of their answers. I am well aware that many regard the word as most distasteful; I was inquiring whether or not the disdain for the term was founded in etymology or simply a folk misunderstanding of the term.
Can we move this to the pit?
#20
Old 05-08-2005, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoodoo Ulove
Can we move this to the pit?
NO, but feel free to start a pit thread if you wish.
#21
Old 05-08-2005, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoodoo Ulove
Can we move this to the pit?
What do you find pittable?

What do you make of this short essay by "Fanny Fern," published in 1853?
Quote:
"I CAN'T."

Apollo!--what a face! Doleful as a hearse; folded hands; hollow chest; whining voice; the very picture of cowardly irresolution. Spring to your feet, hold up your head, set your teeth together, draw that fine form of yours up to the height that God made it; draw an immense long breath, and look about you. What do you see? Why, all creation taking care of number one;--pushing ahead like the car of Juggernaut, over live victims. There it is; and you can't help it. Are you going to lie down and be crushed?

By all that is manly, no!--dash ahead! You have as good a right to mount the triumphal car as your neighbor. Snap your fingers at croakers. If you can't get round a stump, leap over it, high and dry. Have nerves of steel, a will of iron. Never mind sideaches, or heartaches, or headaches,--dig away without stopping to breathe, or to notice envy or malice. Set your target in the clouds, and aim at it. If your arrow falls short of the mark, what of that? Pick it up and go at it again. If you should never reach it, you will shoot higher than if you only aimed at a bush. Don't whine, if your friends fall off. At the first stroke of good luck, by Mammon! they will swarm around you like a hive of bees, till you are disgusted with human nature.

"I can't!" O, pshaw! I throw my glove in your face, if I am a woman! You are a disgrace to corduroys. What! a man lack courage? A man want independence? A man to be discouraged at obstacles? A man afraid to face anything on earth, save his Maker? Why! I have the most unmitigated contempt for you, you pusillanimous pussy-cat! There is nothing manly about you, except your whiskers.
You see how "you're a pussy" has meant the same thing for at least a century and a half? And how it's unrelated, in that sense, to women's private parts?

I'll leave it to someone else to make a "Fanny" joke, snarky or no.
#22
Old 05-08-2005, 10:25 PM
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I figured it would be obvious that I felt that being "yellow-bellied and lily-livered" was synonymous with being "a pussy."

The other day some cretin at a gas station said to me "I want some pussy," and I was unable to reply. How snappy a comeback would this be: "I suggest you try the Humane Society." ?

Probably pretty snapless, huh.
#23
Old 05-08-2005, 11:38 PM
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From Inside the Actor's Studio with Bruce Willis:

Lipton: What's your least favorite word?
Bruce: CUNT. It's ugly, mean-spirited, and demeaning to women.
Lipton: Ok...what's your favorite curse word?
Bruce: PUSSY. It's the flipside of the C-word!
#24
Old 05-09-2005, 01:42 AM
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I think that was Robin Williams, actually.

Anyway, part of this has to with how words are used today. No one in any instance I've heard of used niggardly intending it to be a racial slur. That the word had no etymological connection was primarily evidence that it had never generally been used in that sense and that those who objected to it were truely deluded and mistaken.

I think it is perfectly clear that many people who use the phrase "Don't be a pussy" do so with the meaning of female genitalia in mind. You can claim that when you use it it's short for pussycat or pussilaminous, but you can't claim that your objectors are wrong when they attack you for using a word widely used in exactly the same context with mysogynistic intent.

FTR, I have, on rare occassion, used the phrase "Don't be a pussy," and I did have female genatilia in mind. However it never occured to me that this was a synecdoche for women any more than I think dick is a synecdoche for men in "Don't be a dick." I merely thought genital/anal terminology was often used for general terms of abuse. I never made the weak=womanly connection. (Probably because for me it doesn't.)
#25
Old 05-09-2005, 03:04 AM
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KGS, Bruce's feeling about "cunt" vs. "pussy" is a great example of how subjective the connotations that these words have is.

Why is "cunt" demeaning to women and "pussy" somehow the inverse?

My girlfriend hates "pussy." That word is verboten, and using it in its anatomical sense in any context sends her into a rant or a sulk, so I've learned to avoid it. "Cunt" is just fine, though.

Bruce's evaluation makes more sense to me, since "cunt" is so often used in a negative way. Still, it doesn't make a lot of sense that calling someone a "cunt" is considered "demeaning" to women, while calling the same person a "dick" never raises any concerns about perceived misandry. What a load of bollocks. Whoops, pardon me.

Of course, using "pussy" in its synecdochial sense is crass and disrespectful to women.

Calling someone a "big pussy" isn't, unless you want it to be.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Smithee
Anyway, part of this has to with how words are used today. No one in any instance I've heard of used niggardly intending it to be a racial slur.
I hope that's because you avoid the company of racists. I promise you that it is used that way, and has been long before the relatively recent debacle made it an international discussion. Here's an example:
http://nationalist.org/ATW/1999/mar.html (link disabled to avoid SDMB showing up in racist referrer logs)
Quote:
CHICAGO - A minority talk-show hostess is claiming that she would not interview Monica Lewinsky because Lewinsky wanted to be paid. But Nationalists say that Oprah Winfrey may be speaking with "forked tongue." According to Engineer P. Henry, Winfrey producers contacted Nationalist officials last year and asked if they could purchase tape from Nationalist documentaries. "They came to us, we did not go to them," said Henry. But "the deal never took place because Oprah was just too niggardly, to put it plainly."
It's also predictably used as a total malapropism: From some random a-hole:
Quote:
Over 50% of all American Negroes have been through the penal system. Even O.J. conducts typical niggardly acts. What a joke! They should all stay in their areas of the world.
Yes, kids, racists are often dumb as rocks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Smithee
You can claim that when you use it it's short for pussycat or pussilaminous, but you can't claim that your objectors are wrong when they attack you for using a word widely used in exactly the same context with mysogynistic intent.
As I noted, the speaker should be aware that it can carry that connotation and avoid its use unless they are prepared to be misunderstood. This is a GQ thread, though, not IMHO. It seems reasonable to approach a "what does this phrase mean?" question in GQ with information about the phrase's denotation and derivation. The denotation is clear. It means "a timid or weak person." But why does it mean that? The history of its usage gives us a pretty good indication that it's not related to genitals.

Undeniably, for some people, it has acquired a connotative sense that's connected with vaginas. Eh. Bound to happen with English. I wouldn't accept that calling someone a pussy is "widely" used in a misogynist context, though.

Personally, I don't see much substantive difference between arguing that the "coward" sense of "pussy" refers to the supposed weakness of folks with female genitals and arguing that "niggardly" refers to the supposed tight-fistedness of folks of African descent, since both are equally unsupportable.

That's probably because I'm an obsessively strict prescriptivist, though. Hell, I once told a new employer that I wouldn't accept a salary, because I preferred some form of monetary compensation.*

*Take this last with a grain of salt.
#26
Old 05-09-2005, 04:47 AM
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A few UK insults, and their derivations and implications as I've come to understand them:

cunt - strong insult, highly offensive. Applicable to both men and women, implies unpleasantness and assholery of the person so named. Similar implications to bastard although with a totally different origin. Bastard is rarely targetted at women for some reason.

twat - weak insult. Applicable to both men and women, Synonymous with fool, idiot or pratt. dick has a similar usage but is maybe a mite stronger and can imply malice as well as stupidity, likewise for prick but more so. Tool is an Americanism yet to gain wide acceptance, but I like it for its novelty value.

berk - abbreviated form of Cockney rhyming slang "Berkshire hunt", which substitutes for cunt. Despite this derivation, berk is a weak insult with the same implications as twat.

pussy - weak insult, synonymous with wuss or wimp.


I don't think offence should be taken from the (often presumed) etymology of an insult, only from the current usage and strength of the word. Whatever the derivation of "pussy", it is no more derogatory to women in its current usage than "dick" is derogatory to men.
#27
Old 05-09-2005, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mudd
What do you find pittable?
Nothing, really. (Apologies to SamClem) I just thought it would be fun to insult monkeyfist for his (her?) manner of speaking. This would, on reflection, have been unworthy of the ideals of the ideals of the SDMB.
#28
Old 05-09-2005, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoodoo Ulove
Nothing, really. (Apologies to SamClem) I just thought it would be fun to insult monkeyfist for his (her?) manner of speaking. This would, on reflection, have been unworthy of the ideals of the ideals of the SDMB.
What manner of speaking are you referring to? What have I said or done that is pit worthy?
#29
Old 05-09-2005, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antivenin
Just an attempt to "legitimately" talk about pussy. Seems to me kind of passive aggressive, or perhaps just yellow-bellied and lily-livered.
A assure you that I am an adult, and as such, I can say pussy if I choose to. I certainly do not need to cook up a post to do so. I also do not see where or how I have been passive aggressive.

I have been questioning the legitimacy for the reasoning that this particular expression referred to the female body part and therefore was an allusion to the unmanly-ness of women. The pussy-cat allusion has always seemed more clear and direct. I did not, however, have any specific citations to indicate thus. So I brought it to the SDMB, because I knew a group of educated and clear minded individuals gathered for the explicit purpose of “fighting ignorance” would be able to maturely discuss and provide the citations to clear the issue. I would have been happy and content if the evidence presented indicated a historical basis for either interpretation. Unfortunately, many people have responded without any evidence but their own anecdotal reasoning. Were it not for the efforts of Larry Mudd, and the factual support that he has brought forth, this discussion would have been better moved to the IMHO category. However, I was honestly looking for the truth, or evidence thereof. Thanks again to Larry Mudd for his assistance thus far in this endeavor.

I quote again from the Straight Dope Column on "niggardly" :
Quote:
If there's one thing the Straight Dope has taught me, political correctness should always take a back seat to actual correctness.
#30
Old 05-09-2005, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyfist
What manner of speaking are you referring to? What have I said or done that is pit worthy?
What part of "nothing" don't you understand?
#31
Old 05-09-2005, 05:46 PM
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Let's not get too combative,monkeyfist, or this will end up in the Pit.

I think it's clear from Antivenin's follow-up that the post you quoted was just a malice-free (if a little weak) joke.

And let's not denigrate the folks who chimed in with "Of course it means 'woman-like,'" either. As samclem said, the general use has drifted quite a bit.

If you're in the company of people who are more likely to use the word "pussy" to describe a woman's sexual organs than they would to refer to a cat, then you can bank on them hearing "pussy" as "vagina" -- and that's probably the mental picture that they have if they use a common phrase that includes the word "pussy" in a metaphorical way.

"Ass," as an epithet, has suffered the same sorry fate. The strict denotation af "ass" is "stupid person," and it entered the language by way of analogy with a domesticated animal, just like "pussy" did. Like "pussy," it has also developed a strong anatomical connotation.

Folks who warn against the connotations make a perfectly good point -- it's important for the speaker to have good judgement about their audience (and their judgement of them) and to consider if the intended (if correct) meaning will be heard by them, or if they will take offense.

To the pure, all things are pure. I know that if I admit to my aunties that I'm a big pussy, they will hear what I'm saying with no misunderstanding. If I were giving a keynote address to WAVAW, on the other hand, I wouldn't opine that new legislation failed because an MP "pussied out." Heck, I know what I mean by that, but I also know how it would sound in the ears of a roomful of women's activists. It's common sense.

Still, I hate it when people decide a word is offensive because of connotative senses. I remember a few years back, a major plumber's union advised its members not to use words like "petcock" or "ballcock" because it was upsetting people. Ridiculous.

Even more ridiculous, I was once upbraided for using the word "cocky" in the workplace. Not because it was an inappropriate criticism or anything, but because it was a rude word. My boss was a Canadian-born business school graduate, and he somehow thought that calling someone "cocky" was the same as calling them a dick. I was speechless. Again, the domestic animal to anatomy transform. (Although this one was more of a freak thing -- I hope.)
#32
Old 05-10-2005, 12:44 AM
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Erm, am I weird because I've always associated "pussy" with "vulva" rather than "vagina"?
#33
Old 05-10-2005, 12:56 AM
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Not weird, just precise. (Old Low German "puse" and Scandinavian "puss" both mean "vulva.")

I never really thought about it, but I suppose I associate "pussy" with the internal bits because folks talk of pussies moistening with stimulation, even just mental stimulation.

Both by etymology and the association with kitties, though, it makes sense that it should more properly apply to the external bits.

I'm really enjoying this thread more than I should.
#34
Old 08-12-2016, 03:26 PM
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It's from the term don't be a scaredy cat

There are a few terms such as he/she is a scaredy cat or someone who looks scary but is soft is referred to as a pussy cat. The latter was shortened to simply being a pussy. Nothing to do with acting like or girl or anything to do with the vagina.

I would suppose the slang pussy for vagina come about in much the same way as cats are fluffy and stroked.
#35
Old 08-12-2016, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoodoo Ulove View Post
What part of "nothing" don't you understand?
Of course, "nothing" is also slang for that same female body part. It's a bit dated, but Shakespeare used it.
#36
Old 08-12-2016, 04:30 PM
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11 years, for that?

If ''don't be a pussy'' had nothing to do with vagina, it wouldn't be considered vulgar. The etymology is beside the point, all that matters is the connotation when it's used now.

Last edited by Spice Weasel; 08-12-2016 at 04:31 PM.
#37
Old 08-12-2016, 05:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spice Weasel View Post
11 years, for that?

If ''don't be a pussy'' had nothing to do with vagina, it wouldn't be considered vulgar. The etymology is beside the point, all that matters is the connotation when it's used now.
I disagree. The etymology and the backstory is always interesting and useful to know.
#38
Old 08-12-2016, 06:13 PM
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Historical trivia: Queen Victoria nicknamed her eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, "Pussy."
#39
Old 08-13-2016, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by samclem View Post
I disagree. The etymology and the backstory is always interesting and useful to know.
Sure, from a purely academic standpoint anything is interesting and useful to know, but it seems some are trying to rationalize use of the term today based on the etymology, which does not fly with us descriptivist types. The OP wants to know if it's okay to use and not offensive; let's try an experiment. Gather two ten year old kids. Have one tell his teacher he's a pussy, and the other tell his teacher he's a scaredy-cat. See which one gets detention.
#40
Old 08-14-2016, 09:44 AM
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It seemed to have worked fairly well for Sean Connery, in the film "Goldfinger." 007's wonderfully, sexy burr of an accent, mouthing the name Pussy, sent plenty of vibrations up and down many spines. I know it was actually the character's name, but Connery made it extra special. I wonder if anyone objected to it at the time?
#41
Old 08-14-2016, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by quiltguy View Post
I wonder if anyone objected to it at the time?
It happened at a time when people did object but couldn't say so.
#42
Old 08-14-2016, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by BrotherCadfael View Post
Of course, "nothing" is also slang for that same female body part. It's a bit dated, but Shakespeare used it.
Only when merry. Cuntry.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 08-14-2016 at 10:34 AM.
#43
Old 08-14-2016, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quiltguy View Post
It seemed to have worked fairly well for Sean Connery, in the film "Goldfinger." 007's wonderfully, sexy burr of an accent, mouthing the name Pussy, sent plenty of vibrations up and down many spines. I know it was actually the character's name, but Connery made it extra special. I wonder if anyone objected to it at the time?
People did object. Again, context. If Bond just referred to a woman by Pussy as a pet name, most people would let it go by. Girls could be called Kitten, as the youngest daughter on Father Knows Best was. Calling an adult woman Puss or Pussy might be a touch risque but nothing serious.

Instead, Fleming named the character Pussy Galore. As a phrase that was single entendre. "I got pussy galore" was something a man who was a tomcat might say. It was also something Bond could claim. Remember that in the book, Pussy Galore was a lesbian before she gets converted to "proper" sex by Bond's dick. Everything about her was intended to push buttons and be on the edge of acceptibility.
#44
Old 08-14-2016, 12:58 PM
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One complicating factor in relying on dictionary first-usage dates is that slang terms for sexual anatomy are less likely than most words to end up in the publications that dictionaries look to for sources. They will still get printed in some forms, but those forms are less likely to be kept and found by archivists.
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