Cougar Meaning: A Comprehensive Explanation

Do you know what a cougar is? The term “cougar” has taken on a unique meaning in contemporary slang. Far from just referring to a large wild cat, the word now alludes to a type of relationship dynamic. This article will look into this word’s meaning and its modern usage, along with the reception of the term. 

Cougar Meaning

What Does Cougar Mean?

A cougar is a large predatory cat native to North and South America. It is also a slang term used to describe an older woman who is romantically interested in younger men. In this context, the term is often used to suggest that the woman is aggressive or predatory in her pursuit of younger partners.

A cougar generally describes a middle-aged woman, typically in her 40s, seeking a romantic or sexual relationship with a younger man. It is worth noting that while the word “cougar” might seem like an insult, it is usually not used in a derogatory manner. Instead, it highlights the woman’s confidence and appeal to younger men.

Cougar Meaning: A Comprehensive Explanation Pin

Origin and Context of Cougar

The term “cougar” was initially coined in 1974 by a sociologist to describe a 50+ year-old man’s sexual relations with an 18-25-year-old woman. Over time, the meaning shifted to refer to older women pursuing younger men, becoming widely recognized and used in its current context.

The word “cougar” itself is derived from the Latin word “cuguar,” which means “gray wolf.” Initially, the term was used to refer solely to the predatory species of animals, but over time it has embraced additional meanings, particularly in the context of dating and relationships.

Terms Related to Cougar

The term cougar has spawned an array of related terms and slang expressions, some of which reflect the various perspectives and connotations associated with the concept of a cougar.

Puma is a term sometimes used to describe a younger version of a cougar, often referring to women in their late 20s or early 30s who are attracted to younger men. This term implies that these women are still in their prime years, yet display some predatory tendencies similar to that of cougars.

Another slang term is manther, which is a male counterpart of a cougar. This term refers to an older man who is attracted to or involved with younger women. While the term cougar often carries positive implications of being sexy and confident, manther generally conveys a more negative and predatory image.

In the slang vocabulary, there are also terms like gerbilsue, and saber tooth. A gerbil refers to a young man who is attracted to or pursued by cougars, maintaining the prey and predator analogy. The term sue, on the other hand, represents an older woman who desires a younger man but is not as predatory as a cougar. Lastly, a saber tooth is an even older woman who seeks relationships with much younger men, thereby taking the cougar concept to a higher level.

Understanding these related terms provides a better insight into the slang world’s perspective on relationships between older women and younger men. It also highlights the different interpretations of the concept, with some terms focusing on the positive and sexy nature of these relationships, while others emphasize the predatory and potentially negative aspects.

Using Cougar in Conversations, Messages, and Social Media Posts


In a casual conversation, people might use the term “cougar” to describe an older woman who is interested in dating younger men. This term can be used in a neutral or positive way, emphasizing the woman’s confidence and allure.

Example conversation:

  • A: “Hey, did you hear about Jane? She’s dating a guy a decade younger than her.”
  • B: “Really? Looks like she’s embracing her cougar status, huh?”
  • A: “Yeah, she seems really happy and confident with her new boyfriend.”


In a texting scenario, individuals may use the term “cougar” as a shorthand to convey the concept of an older woman seeking a younger partner. The term can be utilized effectively in both serious and light-hearted discussions.

Example text exchange:

  • Person 1: “My coworker is such a cougar. She always talks about the young guys she’s into.”
  • Person 2: “Haha, good for her. As long as she’s having fun and being safe.”

Social Posts

On social media, the term “cougar” may appear in various contexts, such as hashtags, captions, or comments. This usage can serve to celebrate or critique the concept of older women pursuing younger men, depending on the tone and intention of the post.

Example social media post:

  • User: “Had a great time at the cougar-themed party last night! 🐾🥂 #cougarnation #youngerboyfriend”

Societal Implications

The emergence of the term “cougar” in the societal context represents a shift in the perception of older women’s sexuality. Initially, the term carried a slightly predatory connotation, but it has evolved to symbolize confidence and sex appeal among older women who date significantly younger men.

While the term has gained popularity and is now widely recognized, reactions to the term “cougar” remain mixed. Some individuals view it as a positive and empowering label for older women who defy societal expectations and maintain their sexuality as they age. On the other hand, some people criticize the term for its predatory implications and see it as reinforcing negative gender stereotypes.

Moreover, the existence of the term “cougar” highlights the double standard that often exists when it comes to gender and age differences in romantic or sexual relationships. Younger men who date older women may be referred to as “cubs” or “toyboys,” but the term “cougar” is almost exclusively applied to the women involved in these relationships. In contrast, there is no specific term or stigma attached to older men who date younger women.

The increased visibility of relationships between older women and younger men has also contributed to discussions about ageism and sexism in society. Some argue that the “cougar” phenomenon challenges longstanding assumptions about women becoming less desirable as they age, while others contend that it is merely a new way to perpetuate harmful gender norms around female sexuality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the term ‘cougar’?

The term “cougar” is slang that refers to an older woman who dates significantly younger men, usually between the ages of 30 and 50. The word’s origin is somewhat unclear, but it is believed to have emerged in the early 2000s, possibly from Canada. The term is thought to have developed from the predatory nature of cougars as a species of large, wild feline.

How does age factor into the definition of a cougar?

In the context of cougar slang, age difference is a crucial element. A woman is typically considered a cougar if she is at least 35 years old and pursues relationships or sexual encounters with men who are significantly younger than her, sometimes with a difference of 10 years or more. The term generally implies that the woman is sexy and confident.

What are some examples of famous cougars in popular culture?

Famous cougars in popular culture include celebrities like Demi Moore, who was married to actor Ashton Kutcher (15 years younger than her), and Madonna, who has had numerous relationships with younger men throughout her career. Such relationships have attracted media attention and contributed to the normalization of the term “cougar.”

Are there any stereotypes associated with cougars?

There are both positive and negative stereotypes associated with cougars. Positive stereotypes depict them as confident, experienced, and sexually empowering to themselves and their partners. Negative stereotypes, on the other hand, paint them as predatory and desperate, seeking relationships with younger men as a way to boost their self-esteem or cling to their youth.

Is the term ‘cougar’ considered offensive or empowering?

The term “cougar” can be seen as both offensive and empowering, depending on the context and perspective. Some view it as an empowering label, signifying a woman’s ability to forge relationships based on her desires and breaking societal norms. On the contrary, others see it as an offensive term that objectifies and diminishes older women, reinforcing negative stereotypes.

What factors contribute to the development of a ‘cougar’ identity?

Several factors contribute to the development of a ‘cougar’ identity. These can include personal experiences and preferences, societal expectations, and the overall social context. A woman may adopt a cougar identity because she is attracted to younger men or prefers the relationship dynamic that comes with dating someone younger. It’s possible that the rise of the term “cougar” has also contributed to its increasing acceptance and popularity, giving women more freedom and confidence to explore relationships with younger men.


Last Updated on November 25, 2023

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