Word Confusion: Pus versus Puss

Posted February 27, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Gross. This one is just gross. It makes me sick that so many authors confuse pus with puss, and the things that does to my stomach and my brain when my mind stutters over it.

I mean, really? This author expects me to accept one lover saying to another: “Get your pus over here, baby”? Just…ick…

Consider the following:
Get your pus outta my face!

Ick, ick, ick. This must be someone’s little brother waving that disgusting ooze in their face.

Get your puss outta my face!

Back up, buddy. You’re too close to me!

Pus in Boots

Someone has an infection on the foot/ankle/calf that has drained into his or her boot. And I ain’t wearing those boots ever!

Puss in Boots

A fairytale as well as a character from the movie Shrek.

Pus drained from cat tumors.

Hmmm, look at all those dead white blood cells and bacteria with tissue debris and serum squeezed out of those tumors! Ick.

Puss drained from cat tumors.

Poor kitty. She must be so exhausted from the stress of having those cat-related tumors.

Has your pus gone AWOL?

Good riddance! I’m hoping that means the infection is gone??

Has your puss gone AWOL?

Well, dang, let’s get some “lost kitty” posters up!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Pus Puss
Credit to: Medical News Today; Merriam-Webster, pus and puss

Image courtesy of Wise Geek

Per Wise Geek, pus is a sign of your body’s ability to fight infections.

This puss has such a cute puss.

Part of Grammar:
Noun Noun 1, 2
A whitish-yellow, yellow, yellow brown, or greenish fluid that accumulates at the site of inflammation, which is caused by an infection, a buildup of dead leukocytes (white blood cells) from the body’s immune system.

When the buildup is on or very near the surface of the skin, it is called a pustule or pimple. An accumulation of pus in an enclosed tissue space is called an abscess.

A cat, especially as a form of address

  • A playful or coquettish girl or young woman

[Slang] A person’s face or mouth

Cleanse the wound twice daily until there is no longer any pus.

Squeeze the pus out.

It’s oozing pus.

You naughty little puss!

Here, puss. Puss, puss, puss…

You old snuggle puss.

Get your puss outta my face!

History of the Word:
First known use: 15th century
Late Middle English from Latin.
First known use: circa 1530
1 Early 16th century and probably from the Middle Low German pūs (also pūskatte) or the Dutch poes, of unknown origin.

First known use: circa 1890
2 Late 19th century from the Irish pus, meaning lip, mouth.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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