sweet fanny adams (s.f.a., SFA)

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sweet fanny adams (s.f.a., SFA)

Post by Archived Topic » Sat Apr 17, 2004 3:08 pm

Hi from New Zealand.
Can anyone tell us the origin and meaning of "Sweet Fanny Adams"
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sweet fanny adams (s.f.a., SFA)

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Apr 17, 2004 3:22 pm

20th Century Words by John Ayto

Fanny Adams noun (19190: nothing at all. British slang. The original Fanny Adams was a victim of a murder in the late 1860s. British sailors perpetuated her name by using it as a slang term for 'tinned meat,' and during World War I the coincidence of her initials with those of 'fuck all' led to its use as a euphemistic substitute, usually in the phrase 'sweet Fanny Adams.' The expression lasted well into the post-World War II period.
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Cassell's Dictionary of Slang by Jonathon Green:

fanny adams / Fanny Adams: noun [mid-19c] (originally navy) tinned mutton. [the brutal murder and dismemberment of 8-year-old Fanny Adams, at Alton, Hampshire, on 24 August 1867; the murderer, one Frederick Baker, was hanged at Winchester on Christmas Eve; 5000 people watched the execution]

fanny adams / f.a. euphemism for 'fuck-all, which is 1) [late 19th century and still in use] none, nothing, absolutely zero, often extended to sweet fuck-all 'S.F.A.' and 'damn-all.' 2) [1910s and still in use] an extended version of the 'fuck,' 3)'damn' [1920s and still in use] (e.g. I don't give fuck-all). 4) 'hell' [1930s and still in use] (e.g. who the fuck-all does he think he is?).

sweet Fanny Adams / Miss Adams phrase [1910s and still in use] absolutely nothing at all. (cf. s.f.a.) [euphemism for 'sweet fuck all': the identity of Fanny Adams remains a mystery and is presumably based only on the initial letters]

s.f.a. phrase [1910 and still in use] absolutely nothing at all (cf. 'sweet fanny adams) [abbreviation for 'sweet fuck all']
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Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable

Sweet Fanny Adams, Sweet FA or SFA: The phrase, meaning 'nothing at all' or 'sweet noting,' is of tragic origin. In 1867 eight-year-old old Fanny Adams was raped and murdered in a hop garden at Alton, Hampshire, and her body dismembered. A 21-year-old solicitors clerk, Frederick Baker, was tried soon after and hanged at Winchester. The Royal Navy, with grim humour, adopted her name as a synonym for tinned mutton [[and subsequently (1962) to meat stew]], which was first issued at this time. Sweet Fanny Adams, as a consequence, became a phrase for anything worthless and then for 'nothing at all.' The 'F' of the initials is often taken as the 'F-word'
<1889 "Fanny Adams (naval), tinned mutton."—'Dictionary of Slang' by Barrere & Leland>

<1927 "'Fanny Adams’ (or preserved mutton) brought from the ship."—'Blackwell Magazine,' February, page 259>

<1930 "F.A. Sometimes lengthened into Sweet F.A. or bowdlerized into Sweet Fanny Adams. Used to mean ‘nothing’ where something was expected."—'Songs & Slang1914-18' by Brophy & Partridge, page123>

<1933 "Ask any modern sailor who has been refused an issue of pay or rations 'What luck?' and he will be apt to reply 'Sweet Fanny Adams' or just 'F.S.A.', meaning that he received nothing."—'Bulletin' (Sydney)>

<1949 "What do they do? Sweet Fanny Adams!"—'It Was So Late' by J. R. Cole, page 61>

<1962 "Fanny Adams, general nautical slang for stew or hash."—'A Dictionary of Sailor's Slang' by W. Granvillepage, page 46/1>

<1967 "... the small industrial organisation whose own security officers know sweet F.A."—John Gardner>
(Oxford English Dictionary)
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(Revised by Ken G — May 5, 2005)
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sweet fanny adams (s.f.a., SFA)

Post by Archived Reply » Sat Apr 17, 2004 3:37 pm

She was an eight yr old girl killed in 1867 in Alton, Hampshire, England. Fanny Adams was raped, beaten and cut into bits and scattered around, the murderer was caught and hung. Pretty bad, but I grew up in Alton and it's definitely true as I've seen the grave.
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