Urban Etymology?

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.jpg
I am currently reading Umberto Eco’s latest novel, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. The book is probably the most accessible of Eco’s fiction works, although I’m just a half-way through. Those who have been following my blog would know that I’m an Eco fan, and I keep on recommending his works. And by what I’ve read so far, I think I’m going to end up with another thump-up. But that can wait.

Today, while reading the book, I came across a word: putana. This is an Italian word (some links point at a Greek origin, but need to check it), which according to the book means: “a women who does her own selling”. Some web-surfing led me to this definition at Urban Dictionary:

Putana: A slut or a prostitute.
Derogatory term for a woman or girl of Italian origin.

Those who know Indian mythology, especially the stories of young Krishna, will recall the Indian putana: ” female demon, is well known for her attempt to kill the infant Krishna by offering him milk from her poisoned breast” (from http://www.britannica.com).

Interesting? Could there possibly be a connection here? Any etymological scholars?

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7 thoughts on “Urban Etymology?

  1. Hmmm… I can’t really think of a connection. puta(na) seems to be a mediterranean term. In spanish, the equivalent is puta. One of the most common swear-phrases you hear in downtown L.A is hijo de puta.

    There is also a South American Volcano (somewhere in Chile, if I remember correctly), called Putana.

    It would *really* be interesting if all this were somehow tied up with the Indian Putana. (Which sounds like the name of an endangered species… the rare Indian Putana, anyone?).

  2. Actually, the delicious Italian dish ‘pasta puttanesca’ comes from that. Basically ‘pasta cooked by a whore’. It is a very quick recipe so I guess it is cooked in between customers.

  3. Actually, the delicious Italian dish ‘pasta puttanesca’ comes from that. Basically ‘pasta cooked by a whore’. It is a very quick recipe so I guess it is cooked in between customers.

  4. yoss: ha ha. must be!

    K: how about “patita”, the fallen-one, in hindi/sanskrit? i know i’m stretching this a bit, but this seems worth exploring.

    shailesh: rotfl! but maybe it’s just pasta cooked by someone who is used to “pleasuring” men?

    aria: it’s not a good idea to “lol” uber’s comments. ;-)

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