Cougar (slang)

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Cougar is a slang term that refers to a woman who seeks sexual relations with considerably younger men.[1][2] ABC News states that these women pursue sexual relations with people more than eight years younger than they are,[1] while The New York Times states that the women are over the age of 40 and aggressively pursue sexual relations with men in their 20s or 30s.[2] However, the term can also refer to any female who has a male partner much younger than herself, regardless of age or age difference.[3][4]

The origin of the word cougar as a slang term is debated, but it is thought to have originated in Western Canada and first appeared in print on the Canadian dating website[5] It has also been stated to have "originated in Vancouver, British Columbia, as a put-down for older women who would go to bars and go home with whoever was left at the end of the night."[1]

The cougar concept has been used in television shows, advertising, and film. The 2007 film Cougar Club was dedicated to the subject and, in spring 2009, TV Land aired a reality show called The Cougar. The 2009 sitcom Cougar Town originally explored the difficulty and stigma of many so-called "cougars." In The Graduate (1967), a middle-aged married mother pursues a much younger man (21 in the film).

Although often portrayed in the media as a widespread and established facet of Western culture, at least one academic study has found the concept to be a "myth." A British psychological study published in Evolution and Human Behavior in 2010 concluded that men and women, in general, continued to follow traditional gender roles when searching for mates. The study found that, as supported by other academic studies, most men preferred younger, physically attractive women, while most women, of any age, preferred successful, established men their age or older. The study found very few instances of older women pursuing much younger men and vice versa.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Are More Older Women With Younger Men?". ABC News. 5 May 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Kershaw, Sarah (14 October 2009). "Rethinking the Older Woman-Younger Man Relationship". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  3. ^ Conlin, Jennifer (25 May 2012). "Younger Boys More Respectful, High School Girls Say". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Jen Doll. "Can a 16-Year-Old Girl Be a Cougar? Asks the New York Times". The Wire. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Barrett, Grant (17 October 2007). "Time for a cougar?". The Star Online. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  6. ^ Alleyne, Richard, "The 'Cougar' concept: older women preying on younger men is a myth, claim scientists", The Telegraph, 19 August 2010