Why are cats called pussycats? A History of the Word “Pussycat”

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Cats are one of the most popular pets in the world, and they have been domesticated for thousands of years. These furry creatures are known for their playful personalities, soft fur, and unique behaviors. However, have you ever wondered why cats are called “pussycats”?

The term “pussycat” is commonly used to refer to cats, but its origin is unclear.

Some people believe that the word comes from the Middle English word “puse” or “pusse,” which means “cat.” Others think it may have come from the Dutch word “poes,” which means “cat.

“pussycat” has become a popular cat nickname regardless of its origins.

It is often used affectionately to refer to these beloved pets. While the exact reason for the term’s popularity is unknown, it is clear that cats have captured the hearts of people worldwide.


Etymology of Pussycat

Origins in Middle English


The word “pussycat” is believed to have originated in Middle English, where “puss” was a term of endearment for a cat. It was often used with other words to refer to a cat, such as “pussyfoot” and “pussywillow”.

The term “cat” was also used in Middle English, but “puss” seems more commonly used domestically.


Influence of the Dutch Language


The Dutch language may have also played a role in developing the term “pussycat.” The Dutch word “poes” is similar in meaning to “puss,” and it is possible that the term “pussycat” was influenced by Dutch settlers in England. The word “poes” is still used in modern Dutch to refer to a female cat.


Adoption into Modern English


The term “pussycat” continued to be used in English literature throughout the centuries, and it eventually became a popular term of endearment for cats. Today, “pussycat” is a commonly used term for a cat, particularly in a domestic context. It is often used affectionately to refer to a beloved pet cat.

The etymology of “pussycat” is not entirely clear, but it seems to have originated in Middle English as a term of endearment for a cat. The influence of Dutch settlers in England may have also played a role in the development of the term. Today, “pussycat” is a commonly used term for a cat, particularly in a domestic context.


Cultural Significance of Pussycat


Cats have been a part of human culture for centuries, and the term “pussycat” has become a popular nickname for these furry felines.

While the term’s origins are not entirely clear, there is no denying that it has become a significant part of popular culture.

This section will explore the cultural significance of the term “pussycat” in literature, music, and entertainment.


Pussycat in Literature


The term “pussycat” has been used in literature for centuries, with some of the earliest references dating back to the 16th century. In many cases, the term is used as a term of endearment for cats, often used by children or in romantic contexts. For example, in the classic nursery rhyme “Hey Diddle Diddle,” the cat is called a “pussycat.

In recent literature, the term “pussycat” has been used to describe various cat breeds, from domestic shorthairs to Siamese cats. It has also been used to describe the behavior of cats, with many authors using the term to describe cats that are playful, mischievous, or affectionate.


Pussycat in Music and Entertainment


The term “pussycat” has also been used extensively in music and entertainment. In the 1960s, the Dutch pop group Pussycat rose to fame with their hit song “Mississippi,” which became a worldwide sensation. The group’s name was inspired by the term “pussycat,” which they felt was a playful and fun name for their band.

In addition to music, the term “pussycat” has also been used in various other forms of entertainment, including movies, television shows, and video games. For example, in the popular video game series “The Sims,” players can create and care for virtual cats, often called “pussycats.”

The term “pussycat” has become a significant part of popular culture, dating back centuries. Whether used in literature, music, or entertainment, the term has come to be associated with cats of all breeds and personalities. It is often used to convey a sense of playfulness and affection.


Scientific Perspective

Animal Behavior


Cats are known for their unique behaviors, such as their tendency to knead with their paws and love of napping in cozy spots. These behaviors are thought to result from their evolution as solitary hunters. In the wild, cats spend much time sleeping and conserving energy, waiting for the perfect hunting opportunity.

This behavior has been carried over into domestic cats, who still spend significant time sleeping and conserving energy.


Animal Communication


Cats are also known for their unique vocalizations, such as meowing and purring. These vocalizations are a form of communication between cats and their owners and between cats themselves.

Meowing is a learned behavior that cats use to communicate with humans while purring is believed to be a sign of contentment and relaxation.

From a scientific perspective, the term “pussycat” is thought to have originated from the sound of a cat’s purring. The word “pussy” was used in the 16th century to describe a “pet or darling,” and it is thought that the term “pussycat” evolved from this usage.

While the exact origins of the term are unclear, it was likely used to describe cats that were kept as pets and were known for their affectionate behavior.

Overall, while the exact origins of the term “pussycat” may be unclear, it is clear that cats have played an essential role in human society for centuries. From their unique behaviors to vocalizations, cats fascinate and entertain us.


Contemporary Usage

Pussycat as a Term of Endearment


Although the term “pussycat” originally referred to a cat, it has evolved to become a term of endearment used to describe a person, typically a woman, who is sweet, gentle, and affectionate. The term has been used in this way since at least the early 1900s and continues to be used today.

In contemporary usage, “pussycat” is often used in a playful or flirtatious manner and is sometimes used as a nickname for a significant other. It can also describe someone timid, although this usage is less common.


Pussycat in Popular Culture


The term “pussycat” has also been used in popular culture, particularly music and film. One of the most famous uses of the term is in the song “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones, released in 1965 and became a hit worldwide. The song uses the term “pussycat” as a playful way to refer to a woman.

In addition to music, the term “pussycat” has also been used in film and television. For example, the 1965 film “Cat Ballou” features a character named “The Kid” who is often referred to as “pussycat” by the other characters. More recently, the term has been used in the television show “Mad Men” as a way for Don Draper to refer to women condescendingly.

Overall, the term “pussycat” has evolved from its original meaning of a cat to a term of endearment and a cultural reference in popular media.

[su_box title=”Affiliate Disclosure”]This website is supported by its readers. Please assume that all links are affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links we will make a commission from Amazon. Thank you.[/su_box]

About the author

Latest posts