Entertainment Love and Romance What Is a Puma as Compared to a Cougar in Regards to Dating? Share PINTEREST Email Print Robert Nicholas / Getty Images Entertainment Relationships Divorce Teens LGBTQ Friendship By Linda Lowen Linda Lowen B.A. in English Language and Literature, Well College Linda Lowen is an award-winning writer with more than two decades of experience speaking and writing about women's issues. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 08/19/20 A puma is more than a sleek feline predator. It's also a slang term for a woman's dating life and, more specifically, the age of the partner she seeks. There are definitely some ageist and sexist connotations to the term, so let's take a look at what it's been used to refer to and how it's evolved over time. Meaning of Puma in the United States In the United States, "puma" has been used as slang for a cougar minus ten years; she is defined as a woman in her 30s who prefers dating younger men. Hollywood celebrity Jennifer Aniston has long been associated with the term due to her relationships with younger men, most notably John Mayer (nine years younger). Demi Moore, in an interview with W magazine in March 2010 (at age 47), expressed her displeasure with the cougar label and said, "I'd prefer to be called a puma," referring to her (now defunct) marriage to Ashton Kutcher who is 16 years younger than Moore. Despite Moore's attempt to use the terms interchangeably, a puma is widely regarded as a woman under 40 who prefers younger men while the cougar label is applied to women in their 40s and 50s who seek out younger male companions who are at least 10 years younger and often half their age. While May-December romances involving older men with younger women are par for the course, there is often a double standard when it comes to older women dating younger men, even when those women are just in their 30s, hence the development of terms like "puma" to call (negative) attention to it. For example, actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler caught a lot of public flak when she announced her engagement. Sigler was 31 and her beau was 23. Bottom Line The use of slang terms to box people - particularly women - into stereotypes based on age and romantic partners is somewhat dated, but it continues to pervade culture at some level. While most people at least have some idea of what a "cougar" refers to, terms like "puma" have largely fallen out of the popular lexicon, and that's a good thing. It's also worth noting that there's no male equivalent for these terms - in fact, in relationships with older men and younger women, the label still gets put on the woman, with terms like "sugar baby." Society continues to put labels on what women desire, whether referring to older or younger partners. But, ultimately, women continue to push back on old taboos and seek out the romantic partners of whatever age they want.