Etymology Of The Word “Cat”
The origin of the English word ‘cat’ (Old English catt), is possibly coming from the Late Latin word cattus, cata, catta (domestic cat).
“Cattus” was first used at the beginning of the 6th century and is derived either from an Egyptian precursor of Coptic šau, “tomcat”, or from its feminine form suffixed with -t. Another origin is from Afro-Asiatic languages, like the Nubian word kaddîska (which means wildcat) and Nobiin kadīs are possible sources or cognates. Nevertheless, it is “equally likely that the forms might derive from an ancient Germanic word, imported into Latin and thence to Greek and to Syriac and Arabic”.
The English “puss”, extended as “pussy” and “pussycat”, is in use since the 16th century and may have been introduced from Dutch “poes” or from Low German “puuskatte”, related to Swedish “kattepus”, or Norwegian “pusekatt”. The etymology of this word is unknown, but it may have simply arisen from a sound used to attract a cat.
A male cat is called tom or tomcat. An unspayed female is called a queen, especially in a cat-breeding context. A juvenile cat is referred to as “kitten”. In Early Modern English, the word kitten was interchangeable with the now-obsolete word “catling”.
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