Pus or puss?

25 May

Yuck, yuck, yuck! I said to (well, Tweeted to) the last person I saw muddling these up, “Don’t make me do a Troublesome Pair on this one!” but actually there is a need, isn’t there.

I’ll make it short.

Pus is the liquid formed in infected tissue

Puss is a term of affection for a cat, or a coquettish (young) woman.

Pussy (pronounced to rhyme with “fussy”) means full of the above liquid. Pussy (calm down … and pronounced with a u as in “pushy”) is another affectionate term for a cat. Maybe that’s how the confusion has crept in.

Anyway, there we go: all done now. Eugh. But necessary, yes?

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


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3 responses to “Pus or puss?

  1. Cole peters

    June 26, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Thank you so much for clearing this up. I was wandering why do they sound different if they are spelled the same way? Pussy pussy. Pus in puss. The only diffrence is that there’s an extra s, it shouldn’t change the sound of the U to a sound like in “us”. And where does the “oous” in puss (phonetic spelling attempt of “puss”) come from that’s not a hard or soft, You, uhh?

    This is something I want learn, interesting I think, an answer would be appreciated.

    Until then,
    Stoner thinking about puss.


    • Liz Dexter

      June 27, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Thank you for your comment! Puss -> pussy and pus -> pussy retain their vowel sound (oo / uh respectively) so the sound doesn’t change if the meaning doesn’t. I hope that helps!



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