Putang Pie

How did the vagina acquire the name “Putang Pie”?

I always heard it as poontang, and the American Heritage Dictionary’s take on it is thus:

I’m sorry, the American Heritage Dictionary’s etymologies have gone downhill from the first edition, when they really rocked. (Well, at least they included poontang in the third edition; it didn’t appear in the first. “So, you have been looking for them, madame?”)

“Stinking, rotten, foul …”? Oh, come on! I would say that reveals more about the etymologist’s state of mind than about the word itself!

I think even their definition is somewhat off. The way I understood it, poontang refers primarily to the vulva. Using it to mean coitus would be a secondary derivation, like the way “pussy” is used. “Damn, I’m horny and I wanna get me some pussy!”

The real etymology of French putaine, originally meaning ‘whore’, comes from Vulgar Latin puttana (compare Spanish putana). That was derived from puta or putta, originally meaning ‘girl’. (Yeah, I know it is not nice, let alone politically correct, to generalize girls as whores, but why do you think they call it “Vulgar Latin”? We’re talking about the Dark Ages here.)

The Proto-World linguists see Latin puta as derived from the primal word *puti meaning ‘vulva’. They found cognates in words for vulva in languages all over the world, for example Hebrew pot (“secret parts” in the King James Version, Isaiah 3:17); Tamil puNTai; Tulu puTi; Old Icelandic fuð; Malinke butu; Songhai buti; Old Japanese photo (mod. hoto); Australian Aboriginal Luridya puda; Proto-Caucasian *put’i; Basque poto-rro; Mohegan se-bud, etc. There are lots of other examples.

Here’s a thread I didn’t think I’d be replying to when I first opened it… I’d just like to quibble a little with the etymology here.

The only meaning I’ve ever heard for puta is whore. (It makes for an amusing misunderstanding when confused with puja – meaning ‘push’ – when said to a woman in labor, but I digress.) ‘Girl’ was originally puella.

Um, no. “Vulgar Latin” is thusly called because it was the language of the people, aka the vulgus. We get ‘vulgar’ from the same source, but it doesn’t mean the same thing.

I’ll just sit back and wait for this thread to meander its merry way towards “Gulliver’s Travels” and the title of one of the chapters.



For those of use who have never read this book, would you please hold the hum for a moment and elucidate?

What screech-owl said!

One of the nations Gulliver visited was the floating island of Laputa.

[Further thread-drift]

Swift knew what it meant. That’s why he called it that. Hayao Miyazaki, on the other hand, didn’t, when he named his manga series Laputa: Castle in the Sky, after Swift’s floating island.

If Disney ever gets around to releasing their translation of the movie based thereon (two years ago it was ‘coming soon’…bah!) it will, for obvious reasons, simply be titled Castle in the Sky.

Thank you Tengu. Wouldn’t it be fun if Disney failed to notice, though? :slight_smile:

Puella would have been used by Cicero, but putta was in fact Vulgar Latin for ‘girl’. Look, a lot of classical highfalutin Latin did not make it into the Romance languages (which originated from Vulgar Latin). For example, it was not equus that survived in popular speech, but caballus. Compare with putto meaning ‘boy’ in Italian (you know, the chubby boy angels painted by Michelangelo are called that–it’s just the masculinized form of putta).


I know that. Duh. I was making a joke.