A Conversation for Ask h2g2


Post 1

Asteroid Lil - Offstage Presence

I recently encountered this word in an historical fiction novel placed in the American southwest circa 1875.

Can this be right? I thought the word came into english circulation with the Vietnamese War 1968-1972.

A friend of mine thinks "poontang" may date back to World War II but is sure it was not known to the Victorian era.

What would the slang word have been, for cowboys in 1875?

Oh, and just in case anybody doesn't know what it means ... I understood it to be military slang for sex, specifically for the females who provided it, even more specifically for what they provided it with.



Post 2

Ender Wiggin

It's Spanish for female genitalia


Post 3

Cheerful Dragon

Actually, the Oxford English Dictionary has it as US slang for sex from the French 'putain' meaning prostitute. So it could have come to the States from Vietnam (at one time a French colony), but there were a lot of French people in New Orleans so it could have come from there at a much earlier date.


Post 4

Asteroid Lil - Offstage Presence

The French variant sounds good, especially since the French original is itself anatomical.

I think the (female) author of the book has committed a serious anachronism; the area in which the action occurs is the Victorian American southwest, in an area predominated by Hispanics.

Thanks for the pointer.



Post 5


1925–30, Americanism; said to be < Limba (West Atlantic language of Sierra Leone) puntuŋ ‘vagina’, though the late documentation of the English word makes such an origin questionable; French putain ‘prostitute’, often cited as the source, accounts precisely for neither the phonetics nor the sense"

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