Word Origin & History
1704, from Fr. prude "excessively prim or demure woman" (also an adj.), first recorded in Molière, from O.Fr. preude "good, virtuous, modest," perhaps an ellipsis of preudefemme "a discreet, modest woman," from O.Fr. prou de femme, fem. equivalent of prud-homme "a brave man" (see
). First record of prudish is from 1717. Prudery first recorded 1709.
"The peculiarity of prudery is to multiply sentinels, in proportion as the fortress is less threatened." [Victor Hugo]