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This feels like a silly question but I want to know if female chat is "chatte" because Google Translate suggests anything but (vulgar terms, beware).

Does "chatte" mean female cat and the other words? Or is it just the other words?

Just to avoid any faux pas!

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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Yup, "une chatte" is actually a female cat but is also the lill' name for… erm, ya know, the sex of a woman.

So, use it carefully!!

It is often avoided if possible, in a way or another, like: Comment va ton chat ? (How is your cat?) as the gender of the cat doesn't really matter.

Even though, in the appropriate context and with mature people this isn't necessarily problematic at all. But it remains pretty rare to use the word "chatte" (for the female cat) and could generally feel a bit weird.

Also be careful when using its synonyms, such as: "moule" (mussels) and "minou" (a cute little name for a little cat)

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AFAIK it's more a "modern" thing than anything else. Pretty much everyone knows what it means (excluding our older grandparents perhaps). Interesting fact: In the past, one of the word used to designate a pussy was "un con" which know hasn't the same meaning at all (that's a rude way to say to someone that he's an complete idiot :p more or less). –  JeromeJ Aug 13 '13 at 22:09
    
Thanks, are there any other seemingly innocent words like chatte someone new to French might want to be careful with? (Maybe this should be a different question I'm not sure :p) –  foxyfennec Aug 14 '13 at 11:01
    
@foxyfennec now* (correction for my first answer). Aha, that's a tough question, I should think about it. The first one that I think of might be the french word for tail which is "queue" which means the male sex (that's very nasty) (but it's usually less weird when used than "chatte") or perhaps some other metaphoric words like for instance "mes boules" (my balls) (I think the prob is obvious even in English there). I'll tell ya if I think about other stuff. –  JeromeJ Aug 14 '13 at 15:21
    
I added two synonyms in my answer. –  JeromeJ Aug 14 '13 at 15:53
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@foxyfennec the verb baiser is another example to be used carefully. It can mean either to gently kiss (as in baiser la main) or to make love (the rude way, like to f**k) or to fool someone (the rude way) –  chilladx Aug 14 '13 at 16:27
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JeromeJ answer is perfectly correct.

You can easily understand the context because in english, the problem is exactly the same with dog/bitch.

I guess you wouldn't ask a male friend « How is you bitch ? », because it will easily be confusing and impolite, but you can ask « How is your dog ? », even with a female dog.

It's exactly the same with « chat / chatte » in french. We don't ask to a woman « Comment va ta chatte ? » but we ask « Comment va ton chat ? », even if it's a female cat.

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Excellent et très utile rapprochement pour éviter des sourires narquois. –  cl-r Sep 24 '13 at 12:28
    
I didn't even know that "bitch" also stood for female dog :D aha –  JeromeJ Sep 26 '13 at 19:50
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