twat, n

twat
twat, n. pudendum muliebre

1. Crikey! This definition, from pudendum ‎(a thing to be ashamed of) and muliebre – ironically a neuter form of muliebris ‎(of a woman),  is far inferior to vulva which Latin also bestowed.

Back in the day, vulva could have meant wrapper – from “volvere” (to turn, twist, roll) if not “volva” (female sexual organ). Yes, clearly a gift. Merry Xmas all!

Moving on though, this meaning for twat dates back to 1650–60. Thought a dialectal variant of thwat and thwot in Old English, it continued on into Modern English and is a relative of Old Norse’s thveit (cut, slit, forest clearing) and thus thwaite (also forest clearing) from an old Northern English dialect ).

For some, the T-word’s use in literary history peaked in 1841 when it was used mistakenly by Robert Browning in ‘Pippa Passes’:

“The owls and bats,/Cowls and twats,/Monks and nuns,/In a cloister’s moods.”

Poor Robert! He had been misled into thinking the word meant ‘hat’ by its appearance in ‘Vanity of Vanities,’ a poem of 1660, containing the treacherous lines:

“They’d talk’t of his having a Cardinalls Hat,/They’d send him as soon an Old Nuns Twat.”

(There is a lesson here about not using words unless one is very sure of their meaning.)    Hugh Rawson, “Wicked Words,” 1989

2. Use as an all-purpose insult has been around since the 1920s.

This IG post from December 2016 was revived from the Instagramoire to introduce this brilliantly researched and wonderfully written article on the etymological and thus cultural history of the C-bomb:

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