Fun Facts

Origins of the Term Cougar

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Cougars are often described as older women who are on the prowl for much younger men. The term makes some sense, but does seem a bit of a random choice, considering all of the slang that could have possibly been used. So how did this term come to have this meaning? It’s an interesting story.

“Like many slang terms, the word cougar was first used in a somewhat derogatory fashion,” reports Paula Jones, an editor at “But mature women have now reclaimed the term. They’re proud of their older and experienced status and aren’t afraid to get out there!” What Paula says is true. The word was reportedly first used on a Canadian dating site in 1999 but had been used in speech before that as a put down to an older single woman who would go to bars, trying to pick up a younger man.

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In 2001, author Valerie Gibson played a big part in making the term a part of our vernacular, as well as giving it a push in a positive direction. Her book Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men offers a positive portrayal of the mature women and highlights their confidence, style and sophistication. The guide also provides sex tips for older ladies who want to try new things with their cub dates. Gibson said she first heard the term from a friend who was telling her about an older woman who he saw, trying to pick up guys. He told her, “She looked like a cougar on the prowl.” That’s when Valerie decided to appropriate the term for her book to empower women who don’t feel like settling down, no matter what their age.

After this book, the term cougar took off. “Every year more cubs and cougars join Mature Kiss, and our growth is exponential,” explains Paula. “It’s an exciting time for single, mature women.”

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