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For the Romance word puta (prostitute) (in French puta, Italian puttana) there seems to be two rival etymologies. Is there one that is more credible than the other? Some say that it derived from Latin puella (girl), some say that it comes from Latin pūtidus (rotten, decaying, stinking, putrid). Mglovesfun (talk) 15:52, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

From Vulgar Latin puta (prostitute), probably from Latin puteo (stink). Theories that relate it to Italian putto (child), from Latin boy, are without merit because they confuse it with the Classical Latin puta (pruning), which has a very different etymology. —Stephen (Talk) 16:51, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
These theories relate it to Italian putto because there is a Vulgar Latin word putta(m) (girl) which is also attested in the meaning of "prostitute" (sixth century, Grégoire de Tours).
The change of meaning from "girl" to "prostitute" isn't strange. Similar things occure more often, like German Dirne (prostitute) (originally "girl"). Or German Frau (woman) (originally "lady, noble woman"). Or German Bube (boy) whereas cognate Dutch boef means something like "criminal".
We should mention all theories if they are presented by serious linguists, even if these theories contradict to each other.
--MaEr (talk) 12:18, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

sanskrit etymology[edit]

Is a more convincing etymology not from Sanskrit - the word "Pūtanā", broken as "Pūt" (virtue) and "nā" (no) means "devoid of virtue" ? See this entry on the female demon Putana

No, English borrowed it directly from Spanish. —Stephen (Talk) 17:57, 27 November 2015 (UTC)