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The word has since become increasingly prolific in the media, and its appearances can broadly be divided into two types: euphemism and repetition.Humorous, euphemistic references to 'cunt', punning on the word without actually using it in full, represent an attempt to undermine our taboo against it: by laughing at our inability to utter the word, we recognise the arcane nature of the taboo and begin to challenge it.Social taboos originally related to religion and ritual, and Philip Thody contrasts our contemporary bodily taboos with the ritual taboos of tribal cultures: "In our society, that of the industrialised West, the word 'taboo' has lost almost all its magical and religious associations" (1997).In , Sigmund Freud's classic two-fold definition of 'taboo' encompasses both the sacred and the profane, both religion and defilement: "The meaning of 'taboo', as we see it, diverges in two contrary directions.The c-word's second most significant influence is the Latin term 'cuneus', meaning 'wedge'.
The same process took place in Mexico when the offensive term 'guey'/'buey' was "co-opted by the cool, young set as a term of endearment" (Marc Lacey, 2009).
The clarifies the word's commonest contexts as the two-fold "female external genital organs" and "term of vulgar abuse" (RW Burchfield, 1972).
At the heart of this incongruity is our culture's negative attitude towards femininity.
'Cunt' is a primary example of the multitude of tabooed words and phrases relating to female sexuality, and of the misogyny inherent in sexual discourse.
Kate Millett sums up the word's uniquely despised status: "Somehow every indignity the female suffers ultimately comes to be symbolized in a sexuality that is held to be her responsibility, her shame [...] It can be summarized in one four-letter word. Our self-contempt originates in this: in knowing we are cunt" (1973).It can also be used as an adjective (to describe a foolish person), a verb (meaning both to physically abuse someone and to call a woman a cunt), and an exclamation (to signify frustration).