especially words with a bizarre history,
such as Dunce from Duns Scotus the Hiberno-Scottish theologian
and Donkey from Duncan, another slur on Celts (whoever they are).
Today I discovered that Fanny is a direct borrowing
from the Rhône-Alpes region of France.
A Fanny [sic] was a board painted with the crude or refined
likeness of female buttocks
which a non-scorer in a game of Boules or Pétanque had to kiss
(such cruel and unusual punishment!).
There are more and more-directly derived
French expressions in American
(from New France and Louisiane)
than in BritIrish English,
so Fanny = buttocks in the US, whereas in the British Isles
whither it came from the US, it means vulva.
Fanny is a diminutive form of Frances,
just as Willy and Dick are diminutive forms of William and Richard.
|A Fanny from 1920|
The different British naval-slang sense came from Fanny Adams,
a woman who had been brutally murdered and dismembered,
and had the further indignity of giving her name to
tins of mutton disliked by sailors.
The cans were re-used for eating from and cooking with.