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Proverbs of Hendyng, a manuscript from some time before 1325, includes the advice: Despite criticisms, there is a movement among feminists that seeks to reclaim cunt not only as acceptable, but as an honorific, in much the same way that queer has been reappropriated by LGBT people and the word nigger has been by some African-Americans.and Eve Ensler in "Reclaiming Cunt" from The Vagina Monologues.It was, however, also used before 1230, having been brought over by the Anglo-Saxons, originally not an obscenity but rather an ordinary name for the vulva or vagina.Gropecunt Lane was originally a street of prostitution, a red light district. " In modernised versions of these passages the word "queynte" is usually translated simply as "cunt".The word appears not to have been taboo in the Middle Ages, but became taboo towards the end of the eighteenth century, and was then not generally admissible in print until the latter part of the twentieth century.The term has various derivative senses, including adjective and verb uses.
then worms shall try / That long preserved virginity, / And your quaint honour turn to dust, / And into ashes all my lust in To His Coy Mistress depends on a pun on these two senses of "quaint".
It was normal in the Middle Ages for streets to be named after the goods available for sale therein, hence the prevalence in cities having a medieval history of names such as "Silver Street" and "Fish Street." In some locations, the former name has been bowdlerised, as in the City of York, to the more acceptable "Grape Lane." A notable use is from the "Miller's Tale": "Pryvely he caught her by the queynte." The Wife of Bath also uses this term, "For certeyn, olde dotard, by your leave/You shall have queynte right enough at eve ... However, in Chaucer's usage there seems to be an overlap between the words "cunt" and "quaint" (possibly derived from the Latin for "known").
"Quaint" was probably pronounced in Middle English in much the same way as "cunt".
Similarly John Donne alludes to the obscene meaning of the word without being explicit in his poem The Good-Morrow, referring to sucking on "country pleasures." The 1675 Restoration comedy The Country Wife also features such word play, even in its title.
By the 17th century a softer form of the word, "cunny", came into use.
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