pussy

1
[ poos-ee ]
/ ˈpʊs i /

noun, plural puss·ies.

Informal. a cat, especially a kitten.
Slang: Disparaging and Offensive. a timid, passive person, especially a man.

QUIZZES

IS YOUR VOCABULARY AS STRONG AS A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT? TRY THIS QUIZ TO SEE!

It may seem like fun and games but this quiz that uses vocab from popular stories will determine how much you know.
Question 1 of 10
disgruntle

Origin of pussy

1
First recorded in 1575–85; puss1 + -y2

Definition for pussy (2 of 3)

pussy2
[ poos-ee ]
/ ˈpʊs i /

noun, plural pus·sies.Slang: Vulgar.

the vulva.
sexual intercourse with a woman.
Disparaging and Offensive. women collectively, regarded as sex objects.

Origin of pussy

2
1875–80; perhaps <Dutch, a diminutive of poes ‘vulva’, akin to Low German pūse ‘vulva’, Old English pusa ‘bag’; see purse

Definition for pussy (3 of 3)

pussy3
[ puhs-ee ]
/ ˈpʌs i /

adjective, pus·si·er, pus·si·est.Medicine/Medical.

Origin of pussy

3
First recorded in 1840–50; pus + -y1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

ABOUT THIS WORD

What else does pussy mean?

Content warning: the following content includes references to offensive, sexual, and sexist language.

Pussy is a pet name for a domestic cat, vulgar slang for the vagina, and a term of abuse for a coward.

Where does pussy come from?

Since the early 1500s, the word puss has been a pet name for a pet cat. Think Puss in Boots. Its origin isn’t exactly certain, but by the mid-1500s, the diminutive of puss, pussy, became a term of endearment for girls who, apparently, showed cat-like charms.

Best we can tell, the association of the word pussy with cats and young women—sweet, warm, and furry—led to its use as vulgar slang for female genitalia by the end of the 1600s. Etymologists have offered other explanations, though, suggesting an Old Norse word for “pocket” or “pouch.”

As slang for vagina, pussy took off in in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with pulpy magazines, erotic novels, pornographic cartoons, and other materials—not least of which was slang’s main venue, everyday speech. The rise of the adult-film industry in the 1970s and internet porn in the 1990s took pussy to new heights.

In the early 1900s, pussy had also extended as a term for “sex with women” or “women” in general, objectifying them purely as sexual objects. Around this time it also came to insult “effeminate men” and “homosexuals,” presumably likening such weak-seeming individuals to women and their body parts. This pussy went on as a mild term of abuse for “coward.”

For all its vulgarity or abusiveness, pussy has been featured prominently in popular culture—and politics. Pussy Galore is the suggestive name of an action heroine and love interest in the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964) based on the 1950 novel by Ian Fleming.

An all-female Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, made waves in 2012 when they were arrested for playing pro-feminist and pro-LGBT music in Moscow. They also oppose President Vladimir Putin, making them yet more vulnerable to arrest.

In October 2016 during the presidential campaign, an Access Hollywood tape of candidate Donald Trump admitting to sexually assaulting women leaked, capturing him saying how we would “grab them by the pussy.” The astonishing remarks were not enough for him to lose the office, however, and the day after his inauguration in 2017 saw the historic Women’s March on Washington, featuring women wearing pink knit Pussyhats and brandishing pussy-punning signs in protest of Trump and gender and sexual oppression more generally.

How is pussy used in real life?

Pussy or pussycat still refers to domestic cats … but it is also used by bros to call their peers weak, afraid, or spineless, as Trump controversially called Senator Ted Cruz one at a rally in March 2016.

Pussy prevails, though, as slang for “vagina.” Sometimes autocorrect can get us into trouble with words close in form, like posse.

The term is definitely not for polite company. Calling women pussies—as if they are just sexual objects for men, as Trump did in the Access Hollywood tape—is incredibly offensive. However, pussy sees wide and welcome use in more intimate settings.

Since Trump’s Access Hollywood remarks, many women have reclaimed pussy with self-empowering riffs on grab them by the pussy.

More examples of pussy:

“Can a bear get in trouble for shitting in the woods, Sam?…Well, it can if it talks about “pussy” in terms of volume while wiping its ass and discussing gender equity in the modern workplace.’”
—Thornton McEnery, Dealbreaker, June, 2018    ​

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for pussy

British Dictionary definitions for pussy (1 of 2)

pussy1
/ (ˈpʊsɪ) /

noun plural pussies

Also called: puss, pussycat (ˈpʊsɪˌkæt) an informal name for a cat 1
a furry catkin, esp that of the pussy willow
a rare word for tipcat
taboo, slang the female pudenda
taboo, slang a woman considered as a sexual object
taboo, slang, mainly US an ineffectual or timid person

Word Origin for pussy

C18: from puss 1

usage for pussy

Though possibly not quite as taboo for most people as the c… word, many still consider this item out of bounds in normal conversation and writing

British Dictionary definitions for pussy (2 of 2)

pussy2
/ (ˈpʌsɪ) /

adjective -sier or -siest

containing pus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for pussy

pussy
[ pŭsē ]

adj.

Containing or resembling pus.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.