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message 1: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2728 comments Mod
Hi, I know we talked about the word "coney" or "conie" but I can't remember which discussion that occurred in...

Anyone happen to remember? It was during a group read in the past year...

coney (n.) Look up coney at
c. 1200, from Anglo-French conis, plural of conil "long-eared rabbit" (Lepus cunicula) from Latin cuniculus (source of Spanish conejo, Portuguese coelho, Italian coniglio), the small, Spanish variant of the Italian hare (Latin 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 punning synonym for cunny "cunt" (compare connyfogle "to deceive in order to win a woman's sexual favors"). The word was in the King James Bible (Proverbs 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 Old Testament, the word translates Hebrew shaphan "rock-badger." Rabbits not being native to northern Europe, there was no Germanic or Celtic word for them.

message 2: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments Dear inconie Candy,

It was in LLL, when we all spent much time with Costard's affectionate remark to Moth,

"My sweet ounce of man's flesh! my incony Jew!"

And what did "inconie" mean? Costard uses the word a second time in the play. One idea was that that it comes from "coney", so Moth was like a cuddly baby rabbit. Anyway, we still have the thread.

I was struck by "jew", a possible abbreviation of "juvenile". Married to a former nurse, I learnt a lot of nurse's slang, used on the wards. Old people were "jerries" (from geriatrics), young people "peeds" (from paediatrics), and many other similar words. Like "juvenile" becoming "jew".

Coney catchers were Elizabethan con-men, out to trap simple country "coneys", as in this book title,

Cony-Catchers and Bawdy Baskets: An Anthology of Elizabethan Low Life

But I don't know what a bawdy basket was!

message 3: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2728 comments Mod
Thanks Martin!

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