Word of the Day: Pusy


The other day I heard a friend of mine use this word and I had to smile.

Clearly this word looks like the American vulgar term for a coward and it is almost pronounced the same – but not quite. In fact, you’re not really bilingual in Romanian and English until you can say these two words correctly.

Sometimes spelled pusi, in Romanian it is a term identical with pup or the “Euro kiss”, also known as a “peck” or a “friendly kiss” (i.e. not romantic).

The word pusy derives from the Hungarian word puszi (pronounced virtually the same as Romanian), which is the noun form of the ordinary verb “to kiss” someone. Therefore the Romanian variant is predominantly used in Transylvania and other Hungarian areas.

In Romanian it is never conjugated in a sentence (such as “te pup”) but simply stated by itself, predominantly as a way of saying goodbye to a family member or a close friend.

Interestingly enough, the Hungarian word originally came from an Austrian German word bussl. The English word (kiss) meanwhile comes from the (standard) German word küssen.

In both Romanian and German, this word has a “cutesy” aspect to it, entirely informal and never used in literary or “proper” situations.

AND NOW YOU KNOW!

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13 Responses »

  1. The Hungarian word for the “romantic” kiss is csók. (It would be better to say the heartfelt kiss than the romantic one, since it is also something you offer to older people as a mark of respect – hence the respectful greeting “csókolom”, which is actually a shortened version of “kezét csókolom” or “I kiss your hand”)

  2. I remember the first time my (American) wife heard my mom say this word. She was asking one of our kids to give her a “pusi.” My wife blushed, her eyes became as big as “cepe” and gave me that OMG kind of look. I busted out laughing. To this day, whenever we hear that word spoken, we look at each other and smile. And, to this day, any time she speaks any Romanian, she refuses to say the word. :-)

  3. also from hungarian, used in the western parts: ‘te tzuc’
    (‘hai la mama sa te tzuc, diavol mic ce esti!’ zicea bunica-mea)

  4. There’s also “pa și pusi!”, when you sarcastically say goodbye to something or someone in a “good riddance” sort of way. I suspect it’s a sort of “ardelenesc” idiom, so you might have heard it already :D

  5. Sam, some people also say “te pup” – or how it sounds in the eastern part, “ti pup” :)

  6. how it sounds in the eastern part, “ti pup”

  7. Middle English: buss “to kiss”

    English “kiss” is related to, but doesn’t come from, German “kussen”.

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