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Cunt (pronounced /ˈkʌnt/) is a vulgarism, generally referring to the female genitalia,[1] specifically the vulva, and including the cleft of Venus. The earliest citation of this usage in the 1972 Oxford English Dictionary, c 1230, refers to the London street known as Gropecunt Lane. Scholar Germaine Greer has said that "it is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock."[2]

"Cunt" can also be used informally as a derogatory epithet in referring to a person of either sex, but this usage is relatively recent, dating back only as far as the late nineteenth century.[3] Reflecting different national usages, the Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines "cunt" as "an unpleasant or stupid person", whereas Merriam-Webster defines the term as "a disparaging term for a woman" and "a woman regarded as a sexual object"; the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English defines it as "a despicable man", however when used with a positive qualifier (good, funny, clever, etc.) in countries such as Britain, New Zealand and Australia, it conveys a positive sense of the object or person referred to.[4]

The word appears to have been in common usage from the Middle Ages until the eighteenth century. After a period of disuse, usage became more frequent in the twentieth century, in parallel with the rise of popular literature and pervasive media. The term also has various other derived uses and, like "fuck" and its derivatives, has been used mutatis mutandis as noun, pronoun, adjective, participle and other parts of speech.


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