Twat  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The word twat has various functions. It is a vulgar synonym for the human vulva, but is more widely used as a derogatory epithet, especially in British English. The word may originate from Old Norse þveit meaning cut, slit, or forest clearing.

Historical usage

Robert Browning famously misused the term in his 1841 poem "Pippa Passes", believing it to be an item of nun's clothing:

Then owls and bats
Cowls and twats
Monks and nuns in a cloister's moods
Adjourn to the oak-stump pantry

Its meaning was in reality the same then as now, Browning's misconception probably having arisen from a line in a 1660 satirical poem, Vanity of Vanities:

They talk't of his having a Cardinalls Hat
They'd send him as soon an Old Nuns Twat

Another mistaken (or perhaps dialectal) use was in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1870 science fiction novel The Coming Race, in an apparent satire on Darwin:

Among the pithy sayings which, according to tradition, the philosopher bequeathed to posterity in rhythmical form and sententious brevity, this is notably recorded: "Humble yourselves, my descendants; the father of your race was a 'twat' (tadpole): exalt yourselves, my descendants, for it was the same Divine Thought which created your father that develops itself in exalting you."

It is commonly thought that a "twat" is a noun to describe a pregnant goldfish. However, this is disputed by some and may be an urban myth.

Modern usage

Although sometimes used as a reference to the female genitalia, the word twat is more often used in various other ways:

  • As a derogatory insult, a pejorative meaning a fool, a stronger alternative to the word twit – 'He can be a complete twat' (often used in the UK)
  • To hit something (or someone) hard or violently – 'Let's get out there and twat it!'

In August 2008, the publisher of a children's book, My Sister Jodie by Jacqueline Wilson, decided to reprint the word twat as twit in future editions of the novel so as not to offend readers or their parents.

In a radio interview on 29 July 2009, the leader of the British Conservative Party, David Cameron apologized for any offence caused after he used the word twat on live radio during a breakfast radio show interview on Absolute Radio:

The trouble with Twitter, the instantness of it – too many twits might make a twat."

He attempted to play down the incident, and added: "I was doing a radio interview and I'm sure that people will understand that."

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Twat" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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