Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rabbit, rabbit

I noticed that, over on the mothership, Fortunate1 claimed that 'coney' was derived from the Dutch word for 'rabbit'...which surprised me, seeing as I'd always thought it was Old English. Well, according to the Online Etymological Dictionary, we're both wrong because

c.1200, from Anglo-Norm. conis, pl. of conil "long-eared rabbit" (Lepus cunicula) from L. cuniculus, the small, Sp. variant of the It. hare (L. lepus), the word perhaps from Iberian Celtic (classical writers say it is Spanish). Rabbit arose 14c. to mean the young of the species, but gradually pushed out the older word 19c., after British slang picked up coney as a synonym for "c*nt" (cf. connyfogle "to deceive in order to win a woman's sexual favors"). The word was in the King James Bible [Prov. xxx.26, etc.], however, so it couldn't be entirely dropped, and the solution was to change the pronunciation of the original short vowel (rhyming with honey, money) to rhyme with boney. In the O.T., the word translates Heb. shaphan "rock-badger." Rabbits not being native to northern Europe, there was no Gmc. or Celtic word for them. Brooklyn's Coney Island so called for the rabbits once found there.

I love the word 'connyfogle'...My challenge to 'Spillers: what might be the word for "to deceive in order to win a MAN's sexual favours"?


Proudfoot said...

to deceive in order to win a MAN's sexual favours?


ejaydee said...

I was gonna go for booty.

steenbeck said...


So Coney Island could also be called...

TonNL said...

The dutch for rabbit is "konijn", and in the Middle-Dutch (15th til 18th century) it was "conijn" or "coneijn", lots of Dutch people still have that surname. And from "Coneijn Eilant" it isn't that far to "Coney Island"

goneforeign said...

Seems several of us were intrigued by that minor off topic post, I was, specifically with "Breuckelen'. But I think both you Tfg and Senor Fortunate are both correct, he's citing the Dutch origins and you the Old English, they evolved side by side probably both having the same root word back in antiquity and Tonnl's comment
"And from "Coneijn Eilant" it isn't that far to "Coney Island" makes sense.
Love these word games.

saneshane said...

Did a limited T-shirt for this German band called 'Scut' tried to find out what on earth it meant for a while... then looked it up in a dictionary
'short erect tail on a hare or deer'
did I feel dumb- some words are just weird.

magnetic fields 'let's pretend we are bunny rabbits'

Jens Lekman 'friday night at the drive in bingo'

"we could start a farm with little white bunnies/ just watching them copulate is very funny"

snadfrod said...