Cunt IPA:/kʌnt/) is a vulgarism referring generally to the female genitalia, specifically the Cleft of Venus. The earliest citation of this usage in the Oxford English Dictionary, circa 1230, refers to the London street known as “Gropecunt Lane”. It is one of the most taboo words in the English language, and one of the few remaining words with a genuine power to shock.
“Cunt” is also used informally as a derogatory epithet in referring to either sex, but this usage is relatively recent, dating back only as far as the late nineteenth century. Reflecting different national usages, the Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines “cunt” as “an unpleasant or stupid person”, whereas Merriam-Webster defines the term as “a disparaging term for a woman” and “a woman regarded as a sexual object”; the Macquarie Dictionary of Australian English defines it as “a despicable man”.
The word appears to have been in common usage from the Middle Ages until the eighteenth century. After a period of disuse, usage became more frequent in the twentieth century, in parallel with the rise of popular literature and pervasive media. The term also has various other derived uses and, like “fuck” and its derivatives, has been used mutatis mutandis as noun, pronoun, adjective, participle and other parts of speech.