What Is The Slang For A Male Cat?

Slang refers to informal words and phrases that are more commonly used in casual speech, especially by particular social groups. Slang is constantly evolving, with new words and phrases being created and old ones falling out of fashion. This article focuses specifically on slang terms for male cats.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of common slang used to refer to male cats. We will explore the origins and history behind these slang terms, look at regional variations, and examine how male cat slang is used in pop culture. The goal is to satisfy curiosity about the informal language surrounding male cats and analyze why certain slang persists while other terms fade away.


The origins of slang terms for male cats can be traced back hundreds of years. In the English language, “tomcat” emerged as a slang word referring to male cats in the late 16th century. The term may have derived from the name “Tom,” which was commonly used to refer to male cats at the time.

“Gib,” short for “gib cat,” also arose in the 16th century as an English slang word for a male cat, especially an unneutered one. The exact etymology is uncertain, but some sources suggest it relates to “Gilbert,” which was another common name for male cats.

Other slang terms like “stud” and “sire” likely emerged later on, drawing comparisons between virile male cats and virile men. Regional slang words, like “mouser” in America, also appeared over time. The slanglexicon for male cats grew as new colloquial terms caught on in different eras and areas.

While the exact origins of most cat slang terms are murky, we can trace their general roots back hundreds of years in the English language. The informal terminology reflects how cats have been a part of human culture and history for centuries.

Common Slang Terms

The most popular slang term for a male cat is “tomcat” or just “tom.” This dates back to at least 16th century England, when male cats were called “tom cat” after the male name “Tom.”1 The term was later shortened to simply “tom.”

“Gib” and “gibbed” are also common British slang terms for male cats. “Gib” likely derives from the Northern England dialect word “gib,” meaning a male cat that has been neutered. “Gibbed” refers specifically to a male cat that has had one or both testicles removed.1

Some other regional British slang terms are “hob” and “nob,” often used in combination as “hobnob.” In Cockney rhyming slang, a male cat is called a “ginger beer” or just “ginger.”

Regional Variations

The slang terms used to refer to male cats tend to vary quite a bit by region and dialect. For example, in parts of the Southern United States, you might hear “tomcat” used commonly as a casual or informal way to refer to a male cat (Synonyms of CAT | Collins American English Thesaurus). “Tom” can be used as shorthand for tomcat. In the Midwest, “tabby” is a frequently used slang word for cats of either gender. On the West Coast, you might hear “kitty” used affectionately for a male cat.

There are also some very regional and localized slang terms. According to an informal poll on Reddit, some slang terms used for cats in different parts of America include “puddy tat” in the Pacific Northwest, “meow meow” in parts of California, and “pussens” in Maine (What “Cute” Word Do You Use For A Cat? : r/AskAnAmerican). While these aren’t exclusively used for male cats, they demonstrate the diversity of slang terminology.

In some cases, the gender-specific terms “tomcat” or “gib” (an archaic word) might be used to refer specifically to male cats. But most regional slang uses generic terms like “kitty” or “tabby” for cats of either sex.

Usage in Pop Culture

There are many references to cats slang in pop culture, especially in music. The jazz era of the 1930s-1950s popularized the slang term “cat” as referring to a hip male or guy (Source). For example, Cab Calloway’s famous 1931 jazz song “Minnie the Moocher” uses the lyrics “He was the cat’s pajamas” referring to a hip guy. Cats slang also appears in other music genres. The metal band Dio have a song called “Eat Your Heart Out” with the lyrics “You know I’m just a cool cat, cool cat.” More recently, pop singer Kesha’s song “C U Next Tuesday” uses the lyrics “I’m one badass fat cat.”

Cat slang has also been used frequently in movies. The 1970s coming-of-age classic American Graffiti includes the line “Who is that guy? He’s really a cool cat.” More recently, the 2018 superhero film Black Panther has the character Everett Ross say “I found this real cool cat there.” Older cartoons also used cat slang, like 1940’s Tom and Jerry cartoons where Tom refers to himself as a “hep cat.” Overall, cat slang has permeated pop culture references in music, film, and television for decades (Source).


Certain slang terms to refer to male cats have sparked controversies due to their offensive or derogatory nature. Some consider the terms “tomcat,” “gib,” and “stud” to promote harmful stereotypes about male promiscuity or aggressiveness (Source 1). On forums like Reddit, users have debated whether using “cat” as slang for a man relies on outdated gender stereotypes (Source 2).

Other slang terms like “pussy” to refer to weak or cowardly men have drawn criticism for misogynistic connotations linking female cats to negative traits. Some consider such terms offensive, especially when used as insults (Source 3). There have been calls to avoid slang that perpetuates harmful assumptions and promotes discrimination.

However, others argue common slang terms are not inherently offensive in modern usage. They contend context matters more than the origin of certain words. Ongoing debates continue around promoting more inclusive language while preserving free speech.

Linguistic Analysis

Cat slang like “tomcat” traces its origins back centuries to Old English and Middle English terms for male cats. The word “tomcat” first appeared in the 16th century, derived from “Tom the cat” as a generic name for a male cat, similar to how “Jack” is used for certain animals (e.g. jackrabbit). The origins of “tom” as a name for a male likely comes from the Old English “toma” meaning male cat. Morphologically, “tomcat” is a compound word joining “tom” + “cat.”

There are interesting phonological patterns in cat slang as well. For example, “pussycat” dates back to the late 16th century and originated as a term of endearment that underwent reduplication, a process where a syllable or word is repeated for emphasis or plurality. The first syllable “puss” derives from the sound a cat makes, undergoing onomatopoeic change. Onomatopoeia is when a word phonetically imitates a sound, like “meow.”

Other examples of onomatopoeic cat slang include “kitty” which phonetically sounds like a cat’s meow. Regional phonological variants exist too like “kittycat” and “pussycat.” Sometimes “cat” is reduplicated for emphasis as in “cattycat.”


Roback’s psychological analysis of slang in 1954 found that slang terms are often used to establish group identity and belonging. Using slang demonstrates one’s familiarity with the jargon of a particular social group. Roback argues that the creation and use of slang reflects a psychological need for novelty and uniqueness.

According to Chapman’s research on the psychology of slang speakers, terms like “broski” become popular because they fill a linguistic gap. People adopt slang words into their vocabulary because these words express meanings or concepts not found in standard English. Slang terms can influence perceptions of the speaker, conveying an informal, playful, or rebellious attitude.

Some psychologists posit that slang usage allows people to establish an emotional distance from the standard norms of communication. By using unconventional and humorous language, speakers can test boundaries and identify with a nonconformist social group. This enables slang to act as an outlet for feelings of frustration, anxiety, or insecurity.


In summary, understanding slang is an important part of comprehending informal and casual communication. Slang allows people to establish connections, share humor and creativity through language, and communicate more efficiently. While slang can sometimes be controversial or confusing if unfamiliar, gaining fluency in the latest slang ultimately helps improve communication and foster a sense of belonging.

Though often dismissed as frivolous, slang serves many linguistic and social functions. It allows rapid communication and displays linguistic dexterity. Slang is tied to group and generational identity, bringing people together through shared expressions. With ever-shifting connotations, slang keeps language dynamic and expressive. Though some view it negatively, slang is an integral part of how we communicate informally.

By learning the origins, meanings and usage of slang terms, we gain invaluable insight into culture and psychology. Slang requires an agile understanding of nuance and context. Rather than avoid slang as improper, it is important to appreciate the creativity and community it represents. With an open mind, we can learn to navigate slang as a tool of communication, connection and cultural understanding.


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