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and Eve Ensler in "Reclaiming Cunt" from The Vagina Monologues.
Germaine Greer, the feminist writer and professor of English who once published a magazine article entitled "Lady, Love Your Cunt" (anthologised in 1986), discussed the origins, usage and power of the word in the BBC series Balderdash and Piffle, explaining how her views had developed over time.
Frequency of use varies widely in the United States.
According to research into American usage carried out in 20 by forensic linguist Jack Grieve of Aston University and others, including researchers from the University of South Carolina, based on a corpus of nearly 9 billion words in geotagged tweets, the word was most frequently used in New England and was least frequently used in the south-eastern states.
The word "cunty" is also known, although used rarely: a line from Hanif Kureishi's My Beautiful Laundrette is the definition of England by a Pakistani immigrant as "eating hot buttered toast with cunty fingers", suggestive of hypocrisy and a hidden sordidness or immorality behind the country's quaint façade.
This term is attributed to British novelist Henry Green.
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").
" Ophelia replies, "No, my lord." Hamlet, feigning shock, says, "Do you think I meant country matters?
" Then, to drive home the point that the accent is definitely on the first syllable of country, Shakespeare has Hamlet say, "That's a fair thought, to lie between maids' legs." In Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene V) the puritanical Malvolio believes he recognises his employer's handwriting in an anonymous letter, commenting "There be her very Cs, her Us, and her Ts: and thus makes she her great Ps", unwittingly punning on "cunt" and "piss", A related scene occurs in Henry V: when Katherine is learning English, she is appalled at the "gros, et impudique" words "foot" and "gown", which her teacher has mispronounced as "coun".
Elsewhere in Chaucer's work the word queynte seems to be used with meaning comparable to the modern "quaint" (curious or old-fashioned, but nevertheless appealing).
This ambiguity was still being exploited by the 17th century; Andrew Marvell's ...
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".