Fat and lit

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at yahoo.com
Fri Feb 7 01:33:16 EST 2003

--- hallieod at indigo.ie wrote:
> >>Fanny is the short form of the female name
> >>>  "Frances". So there.
> >>>
> >>
> >>Thats "Franny" you're thinking of Sally, this
> >>confusion is the source of several dirty jokes.
> ;-}
> >>
> >You mean the title of _Fanny Hill_ wasn't just her
> name, 
> >but....ohmygosh. I knew it was a feelthy novel, but
> that little 
> >double-entendre completely escaped me.
> I don't think it had that meaning that early,
> though.  Funnily 
> enough, I gave my mother a (huge) dictionary of
> slang for Christmas, 
> and we spent some time reading the entries on this
> very word!  Dunno 
> about F. Burney being called Frances nowadays, OU
> lit courses refer 
> to her still as Fanny Burney.
> Hallie (who despite living in Ireland for well over
> 25 years in 
> total, only learned of the UK meaning of this word
> on this very list 
> a year or two ago!)
It would seem that Fanny=vulva does come from Fanny
Hill (it was named after her, not she from it - there
is no evidence that Cleland was making a pun). The OED
records the first usage in print from 1879, almost a
century and half after the book. This dating also
makes it possible that the original Fanny Adams was
the origin of the terms (though  suggestions she was a
prostitute are wrong) as she was murdered in 1867 -
her body was dismembered at the same time Royal Navy
sailors being given canned meat for the first time -
their attitude to this was that they were eating
"sweet Fanny Adams".

This website has a discussion on the etymology of the


If anyone really wants to research the topic of names
for female genitalia I also came across this (which
confirms the "berk" story) (and also includes the word
JRRT uses although has a slightly different etymology
to the version I read somewhere)


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