Green’s Dictionary of Slang

puss n.1

1. (also pussy) a hare; also attrib. see cite 1851 [orig. dial.].

G. Gascoigne Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting 146: Then let him which founde the Hare go towardes hyr and say, vp pusse vp, vntill she ryse out of hyr forme.
[UK]R. Wild ‘Iter Boreale’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State I 7: That lusty puss, the Good Old Cause, whose wits / Show’d Oliver such sport.
[UK]Etherege She Would if She Cou’d IV ii: If a Leveret be better meat then an old Puss.
[UK]N. Ward Hudibras Redivivus I:1 23: No, no, cries Puss, for all your cunning, / I see ’tis time to men my Running.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy II 189: Hark, hark how the Merry, merry Horn does blow, As though the Lanes and Meadows we go, / As Puss has run over the Down.
J. Gay ‘Hare & Many Friends’ Poems (1801) 58: The Horse reply’d, Poor honest puss.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 126: He [...] made a most confounded rout, / Just like a greyhound, when poor puss / Has whipp’d behind some friendly bush.
[Ire]J. O’Keeffe Farmer 17: To me presented Puss, the Hare.
[UK]C. Dibdin ‘Molly Maybush’ Buck’s Delight 37: Blythe Johnny [...] To me presented puss the hare, / That o’er the wild theme ran so fleet.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Nov. XI 106/2: The Hare was o’er his shoulder flung, [...] From side to side poor Pussy swung.
[UK]J. Bell Jr. (ed.) Rhymes of Northern Bards 258: A gentleman [...] got a hare-skin well stuff’d with hay. / Then into the field [...] set her against a hedge-side; / Our gunners were rambling the fields thro; ./ so that pussy was quickly espy’d.
[UK]‘Hark, Hark Away’ in Universal Songster I 16/2: And we all galloped off to the sound of the horn / [...] / When all of a sudden out starts Mrs Puss.
[UK] in Egan Bk of Sports 385: Poor puss! and thy life is indeed but a day! / When the eye-searching greyhound encounters your way.
[UK]‘The Hare-Skin’ in Rum Ti Tum! in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 174: That pussy was quickly espy’d. / Mr Tindal was the first that espy’d her, / He said that he lov’d a roast hare.
[Ire]S. Lover Handy Andy 353: Like greyhounds in the slip, ready to start after puss.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Young Tom Hall (1926) 213: A smart-sealed note [...] inviting him to partake of the pleasures of a puss hunt.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Ask Mamma 200: Puss, however, had slipped away unseen by the hounds.
[UK]R.S. Surtees Plain or Ringlets? (1926) 312: Puss having traversed the first, a field of seeds, diagonally swerved to the left.
[UK]in Ebsworth Bagford Ballads II xxiii: Shy Pus may double, or cunning Reynard slink under the bridge-arch, but the horseman are staunch.
[Aus]Field 27 Feb. n.p.: Dusting her hare about half a dozen times up to the fence, where puss escaped [F&H].
[UK]J. Astley Fifty Years (2nd edn) I 153: We killed some uncommon large hares, one elephantine pussy turning the scale considerably over ten pounds.
Ashburton Guardian 16 July 2/6: Puss was again lost for a time [...] but the hounds being keen on the scent [...] ran into her.
[UK]Sporting Times 11 Feb. 1/5: A couple of cast-iron dogs were slipped at a hare about twice as big as Radnor Park, and, after a terrific course, killed, literally at Malini’s feet—tearing poor puss in two, in fact.
[Aus]Punch (Melbourne) 1 Aug. 42/2: It was a long course and a remarkable one, the dogs taking it turn about to scout, while the other harried puss from the rear .
[UK]B. MacMahon Children of the Rainbow 7: If she [a greyhound] overruns she’d never smell puss again.
[Ire]Irish Times 30 Jan. n.p.: The French have various nicknames for the hare. Our usual one is puss [BS].

2. in senses of ‘femininity’ [SE puss; the association of women and cats].

(a) a (young) woman.

[UK]Dekker Honest Whore Pt 2 (1630) I iii: It’s no matter, we ha had knocking Pusses enow already.
[UK]Middleton & Dekker Roaring Girle IV ii: I’ll not bate one sixpence. – I’ll maul you, puss, for spitting.
[UK]R. Burton Anatomy of Melancholy (1850) 509: Pleasant names may be invented; bird, mouse, lamb, puss, pigeon, pigsney, kid, honey, love, dove, chicken, &c. he puts on her.
[UK]R. Brome Covent-Garden Weeded IV i: I [...] was stayed, I vow, by the bravest sport, baiting of a fellow or two with our Pusse-cats here.
[UK]T. Killigrew Parson’s Wedding (1664) V iv: Away, puss, if you flatter me.
[UK]E. Gayton Pleasant Notes III v 93: What ever thou and the foule pusse did doe (sub Rosa as they say) while you were plucking of her Rose.
[UK]J. Tatham Rump IV i: I will have eight gentlemen Ushers, that Puss Bess had Foure.
[UK]T. Shadwell Bury Fair II i: What a Pox, is this Puss my Wife here?
[UK] ‘Once, Twice, Thrice, I Julia Try’d’ in Farmer (1897) II 83: Once, Twice, Thrice I Julia try’d, / The Scornful Puss as oft deny’d.
[UK]R. L’Estrange Present from the October-Club 14: Was ever such a Damn’d ill-natur’d Puss, To serve her very Landlord thus?
[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 10 Oct. 4/2: The deceased followed her Husband, called the prisoner poor beggarly Bitch, nasty draggle tail’d toad, ugly Puss, and stinking Punk, bid her go wash her Smock, and continued such language till she fell down dead by her Husband.
[UK]Fielding Tom Jones (1959) 179: I little thought what puss he was looking after; but it shall be the worst he ever vound in his life. She shall be no better than carrion.
[UK]G. Colman Jealous Wife II ii: Gone! what a pox had I just run her down, and is the little puss stole away at last?
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 123: How dare you thus / Chatter to me, you saucy puss?
[UK]G.S. Carey Dupes of Fancy 17: Oh, never mind the little Puss.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Jan. XXIII 228/1: Ah, Nan! thou art a bucksome puss.
[UK]J. Bell Jr. (ed.) Rhymes of Northern Bards 254: Each cuddles his coney or rabbit, / And pleasantly purrs with puss-cats; / Hence with husky harlots cohabit, / And handle a herdling’s old hats.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 142: ‘Ma’am Puss’ a pert lass, bar-maid at a tavern; or one suspected of loose practices, with a saucy tongue, is a Ma’am Puss.
[UK]Comic Almanack May 137: ‘And now my pretty puss,’ Says he.
[UK]D. Boucicault London Assurance in London Assurance and other Victorian Comedies (2001) Act III: lady gay: Max! max: Come in, you mischievous puss.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 9 Mar. 3/2: It was found the little puss paid more attention to H. M. infantry than to Mr. Y.
[UK]‘George Eliot’ Adam Bede (1873) 85: The little puss seems already to have airs enough to make a husband [...] miserable.
[UK]G.A. Sala Quite Alone I 48: The ‘little puss’ had been crying her eyes out.
[UK]M.E. Braddon Dead Men’s Shoes II 165: ‘Artful puss,’ thinks Stephen.
[UK]M.E. Kennard Girl in the Brown Habit I 99: ‘Ah! you puss!’ said he, with an indulgent smile.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 12 Oct. 1/2: Sly little puss.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 1 Mar. 7/4: ‘Kiss me, puss, and open another bottle of champagne’.
[UK]A. Binstead Houndsditch Day by Day 153: No, puss, no; to Heligoland with the Chesterfield.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 2 Sept. 4/7: The naughty little puss [...] tried to sit in my lap.
[UK]A.N. Lyons Arthur’s 215: There’s a bad-tempered little puss, now.
[Aus]‘Henry Handel Richardson’ Aus. Felix (1971) 59: By Jupiter, yes! [...] The little puss!
[UK]B. Cronin Timber Wolves 22: Blest if she ain’t been to sleep in her chair. Lazy little puss.
[US]H. Miller Tropic of Capricorn (1964) 253: Don’t let that sour-balled puss muck up your life for you.
[UK]‘Henry Green’ Caught (2001) 142: He asked himself what he would not give to have this puss mouth jam off his cheek by a river bank.
[UK]G. Lamming Emigrants (1980) 177: Somebody’s getting a piece o’ puss.
[Ire]C. Brown Down All the Days 149: And how’s the oul puss-puss tonight, Delia, me darling?
[UK]J. McClure Snake 169: A swanky puss like Shirl.
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Puss (possibly offensive)} (noun) A female.

(b) a prostitute, a madame.

[UK]R. Brome Covent-Garden Weeded IV i: Nay, you perpetual Pusse.
[UK]Gossips Braule 6: I never tyred going to Hackney for Turn-ups yet; mark ye that Puss.
[UK]C. Cotton Virgil Travestie (1765) Bk I 6: That cross-grain’d peevish scolding Quean, / That scratching cater-wawling Puss.
[UK]Head Eng. Rogue III 81: I met with several that had nibled on the bait of concupiscence, but they were such flounder-mouth’d, draggle-tail’d dirty Pusses, that I put would not venture upon any of them.
[UK]‘Phoebe Crackenthorpe’ Female Tatler (1992) (10) 19: He mimick’d and ridicul’d all the quality in the kingdom; this lady was a trapes, t’other a puss.
[UK]J. Gay Beggar’s Opera III i: Mistress Puss! – Out of my Sight, wanton Strumpet!

(c) the vagina.

[UK]Tales and Jests of Hugh Peters in Zall Nest of Ninnies (1970) n.p.: Behold the Merchant’s wife in her Satins, the Citizen’s in her silks, and the Chambermaid [...] she must glister in her silver-Lace-on the upper coat, half a dozen at least, on the next coat, a few less. Nay, their very smocks must be laced forsooth. Take up that and there sits Puss in her Majesty.
Jack Adams his perpetual almanack 4: The seventh [...] we shall call Quistrill, her mark or Character is a round O with a prick in the midle, or Pusse in her Majestie.
[UK] ‘Trap’ in Pepys Ballads (1987) III 17: But he mist of his sport, for Puss would not start’.
[UK] ‘The Royal Buss’ in Lord Poems on Affairs of State (1963) I 263: Yet they made gods of better tools. / No altars then to plackets were, / No majesty by puss would swear.
‘The Highprized Pin-box’ [ballad] The Usurer that grindeth / to get use upon use, / Often time he findeth, / To come and play with Puss.
French King’s Wedding 7: Eager Flesh will not be serv’d, with dry Bobs put upon her, Nor will she suffer it to be Starv’d, I mean her Puss of Honour.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy IV 218: [He] put in for a Course, and us’d all his Art, / But he mist of the Sport, for Puss would not start.
[UK]J. Wilkes Essay on Woman 21: ’Tis a fond pouting puss, means good to all; And thereby hangs-no-oft’ner springs a tail.
[UK]‘My Thing Is My Own’ in Fake Away Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) III 284: [as 1674, 1719] .
[US] ‘The Love Feast’ in T.P. Lowry Stories the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell (1994) 58: One, more wanton than the rest / Seized on love’s moss-bounded nest. / And cried, ‘Poor puss shall have a treat / For the first time of juicy meat’.
[UK]Farmer & Henley Sl. and Its Analogues.
[US]‘Marry’s Cat’ Bawdy N.Y. State MS. n.p.: But Marry kept hers [i.e. her ‘cat’] closely hid, / Beneath her under-skirt, / And thus did puss escape the boys, / And never get a single squirt.
[US] in G. Legman Limerick (1953) 239: A muff-diver’s dream / Because he refused to let puss go.
[US]Southern & Hoffenberg Candy (1970) 54: Cut the crap, you little tight-puss bitch!
[US](con. 1930s) R. Wright Lawd Today 93: I rememers when old aunt Lucy [...] saw your old aunt Mary there watching with her finger stuck in her puss.
[US]P. Hamill Flesh and Blood (1978) 97: I was [...] Afraid I’d do it wrong, put it in the wrong hole, because out on the street they said there were two, one for piss and one for puss.
[US]J. Stahl Permanent Midnight 55: A racist, puss-pushing yokel.
[US]Sandmann ‘Burning Down the House’ Planet Sex Stories [Internet] In fact, I caught a glance of Stevie licking his fingers clean after removing them from my puss.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] ‘I’m not putting my poor puss through that. She’s for fun and profit only, aren’t you, babe?’ She addressed the last remark to her vagina .
[US]G. Hayward Corruption Officer [ebk] cap. 11: I give them a three month grace period before one of these Officers has a finger in that puss.

(d) the ‘feminine’ partner in a lesbian couple.

[UK]D. Powis Signs of Crime 197: Puss Feminine type of female lesbian.

(e) (US gay) the buttocks.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular.
[US]R.O. Scott Gay Sl. Dict. [Internet].

(f) (US gay) an underage boy.

[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 45: any boy under the age of consent [...] puss.
[US]J. Stahl ‘Pure’ Love Without 168: Jesus act like a [...] little puss, cause he know he so much a man ain’t nobody gonna call him out.

3. (W.I.) with ref. to the cat’s silent walk.

(a) rubber-soled canvas shoes.

[WI]C. Hyatt When Me Was A Boy 148: Puss or ‘crepe sole’ shoes was the joggers of them times.

(b) a thief.

[WI]cited in Cassidy & LePage Dict. Jam. Eng. (1980).

4. see pussy n. (4)

5. see pussy n. (11)

In derivatives

In compounds

puss-boots (n.) [the quietness of one’s steps + ? ref. to the folktale ‘Puss-in-Boots’]

(W.I.) rubber-soled canvas shoes.

[WI]L. Bennett ‘Po’ Muffeena’ Jamaica Dialect Verses 36: Shove har foot eena wan ole puss boot.
[WI]O. Senior ‘Ascot’ Summer Lightning 29: He wearing the biggest pair of puss boot that ever make.
puss gentleman (n.) [pussy n. (11)]

(US black) a weak man.

[Cowper Poems I 163: I cannot talk with civet in the room, / A fine puss-gentleman that's all perfume; / The sight's enough —no need to smell a beau — / Who thrusts his nose into a rareeshow?
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].

In phrases