Etymology of Tits

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Where does the word tits came from?

etymology of breast

Old English breost “breast, bosom; mind, thought, disposition,” from Proto-Germanic *breustam “breast” (source also of Old Saxon briost, Old Frisian briast, Old Norse brjost, Dutch borst, German brust, Gothic brusts), perhaps literally “swelling” and from PIE root *bhreus- “to swell, sprout” (source also of Middle Irish bruasach “having a broad, strong chest,” Old Irish bruinne “breast”). The spelling conforms to the Scottish and northern England dialectal pronunciation. Figurative sense of “seat of the emotions” was in Old English.

[etymology of breast]

Etymology of teat


mid-13c., from Old French tete “teat” (12c., Modern French tette), from Proto-Germanic *titta (source of Old English titt, see tit). Spanish teta, Italian tetta are from the same source.

tit (n.1)

“breast,” Old English titt “teat, nipple, breast” (a variant of teat). But the modern slang tits (plural), attested from 1928, seems to be a recent reinvention, used without awareness of the original form, from teat or from dialectal and nursery diminutive variant titties (pl.).

titties (n.)

1746, tetties (plural), a nursery or dialect diminutive variant of teats (see teat).

Margery. Come, be quite; — be quite, es zey, a grabbling o’ wone's Tetties. — Es wont ha’ ma Tetties a grabbled zo ; ner es wont be mullad and foulad. — Stand azide; come, gi’ o'er. [“Exmoor Courtship, or, A Suitoring Discourse, in the Devonshire Dialect and Mode, near the forest of Exmoor,” 1746]

[etymology of teat]

nipple (n.)

1530s, nyppell, “teat, duct-laden extremity of a mammalian breast,” alteration of neble (1520s), probably diminutive of neb “bill, beak, snout” (see neb), hence, literally “a small projection.” In reference to an artificial device on an infant's bottle, from 1875. A 16c.-17c. slang term for a woman's nipples was cherrilets.

[etymology of nipple]