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William Shakespeare, writing at the cusp of the Reformation, demonstrated the reduced potency of blasphemy and, with his thinly veiled 'cunt' puns, slyly circumvented the newfound intolerance towards sexual language.
The Old Dutch 'kunte' provides the plosive final consonant.
Censorship of both the word 'cunt' and the organ to which it refers is symptomatic of a general fear of - and disgust for - the vagina itself.
The most literal manifestation of this fear is the myth of the 'vagina dentata', symbolising the male fear that the vagina is a tool of castration (the femme castratrice, a more specific manifestation of the Film Noir femme fatale).
There have been attempts, however, to reappropriate 'cunt', investing it with a positive meaning and removing it from the lexicon of offence, similar in effect to the transvaluation of 'bad', 'sick', and 'wicked', whose colloquial meanings have also been changed from negative to positive - what Jonathon Green calls "the bad equals good model" of oppositional slang (Jennifer Higgie, 1998).
The same process took place in Mexico when the offensive term 'guey'/'buey' was "co-opted by the cool, young set as a term of endearment" (Marc Lacey, 2009).
Social taboos originally related to religion and ritual, and Philip Thody contrasts our contemporary bodily taboos with the ritual taboos of tribal cultures: "In our society, that of the industrialised West, the word 'taboo' has lost almost all its magical and religious associations" (1997).