The word puss has two separate meanings, one in reference to a cat and the other in reference to the face. The origins of puss as a cat appears to have been borrowed from Middle Low German pūs. However, it may have originated from the calling of cats, saying Psss! to get their attention.
Puss used as slang for mouth or face comes from the Irish bus, meaning lip or mouth.
Other lesser known usages of puss include:
- An informal reference to a woman or girl, used affectionately. I personally would hate to be called a puss because of its similarity to pussy (see below).
- Apparently the Brits also use it to mean a hare (a.k.a. rabbit). They call pretty much everything by weird names, but we’ll save that discussion for another time.
For those of you with your minds in the gutter, the word pussy also has two meanings, one in reference to a cat and the other to a woman’s naughty bits. Pussy as cat comes from the Old English pusa, meaning bag – which if you ask me, sounds closer to the other definition of pussy. Pusa was also used to refer to anything soft and cuddly – closer to a cat, but you be the judge of that.
Pussy meaning cunt may come from the Low German pūse (meaning vulva) or the Old Norse púss (meaning pocket or pouch). You could also use it as a reference to a woman, if you’re not being very polite.
So go out there and punch that puss in the puss with a pussy. Or not. You know, whatever suits your fancy. I don’t mean to be offensive here, but words tend to twist and turn their way from polite to crude in an instant.
- Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins
- Dictionary of Word Origins: The Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words
Note about photo: This is a picture of my ex-roommate’s cat Gizmo, who is a main coon with really creepy toddler-sized eyes.