Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Molly Cat

Q. Marly asks, "I can’t determine if “molly cat” refers to a promiscuous cat or to a promiscuous woman. Any ideas?"

A. The words moll or molly derive from the name Mary. In Britain, if the original name contained an “r”, it was common for the nickname to contain an “l”. Prince Harold became Prince Hal; Sarah became Sally.

Consider an early 20th century use: gun moll. The second word designated a disreputable woman. In fact, going back to 1604, it was a synonym for a prostitute. A moll house was a house of prostitution.

Similarly, by analogy to the freewheeling feline, cat is a slang word for a prostitute. Clients in a cat house are catting around.

So using the information above, you’ll be able to observe the term molly cat in context to see if it refers to a promiscuous cat or to a loose-living woman who is catting around.

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