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The c-word's second most significant influence is the Latin term 'cuneus', meaning 'wedge'.
The Old Dutch 'kunte' provides the plosive final consonant.
'Cunt' has been succinctly defined as "the bottom half of a woman or a very despicable person" (Pentti Olli, 1999).
According to Francis Grose's scurrilous definition, it is "a nasty name for a nasty thing" (1796).
Despite its semantic flexibility, however, 'cunt' remains our highest linguistic taboo: "It has yet, if ever, to return to grace" (Jonathon Green, 2010).
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 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.