According to my dictionary, “crappie” is derived from Canadian French “crapet,” with no further explanation. So. . . does “crapet” mean anything in French, or might that just be French corruption of some local Indian name for this piscine delicacy.
As far as I know, the word ‘crap’ is derived from Thomas Crapper, the Englishman who invented the modern flush toilet. No kidding.
Hi, BaldTaco (ugh). Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board.
I suspect the Original Poster was asking about the fish, not the, uh, other stuff. As it happens, though, Cecil Adams recounts your story here.
In Illinois, it’s always pronounced “croppie”, although I suspect that’s due to the Victorian influence, a reluctance to pronounce it “crappy”.
Dunno what “crapet” means in French.
Let’s cut the crap!
1856, “Our best fish are the pike and salmon,…striped, rock and black bass, croppy, and the common sunfish.”
1889, Croppie,a local name for a species of green bass found in Lake Minnetonka.
These are cites from Mathews, Dictionary of Americanisms
For you, BaldTaco, the word crap as a euphemism for shit is quoted in the OED from 1846 thusly: which of us had hold of the crappy(sh-ten) end of the stick?
Curiouser and curiouser. Okay. “Crappie” is supposed to be a translation from the French “crapet”. However, putting “crapet” into Google brings up a picture, not of a crappie, but of a rock bass and a pumpkinseed.
Here’s a “crapet de roche” (Ambloplites rupestris). Ambloplites rupestris is a “rock bass” in the U.S., not a “crappie”.
And here’s a “Crapet-soleil” (Lepomis gibbosus ). Lepomis gibbosus is what I would call a pumpkinseed, closely related to a bluegill. Certainly it’s not an Illinois “crappie”.
Now somebody needs to explain to me why the Latin names are totally different.
Is it a French thing?
They’re all members of the Centrarchidae, the sunfish family. http://www.sarep.cornell.edu/Sarep/fish/Centrarchidae/sunfish.html
Crappie are in their own genus, Pomoxis. Black and white crappies can most easily be distinguished from one another by the number of spines in the front dorsal fin. The white crappie has 5 or 6 spines and the black has 7 or 8 spines.
Thomas Crapper as the origin of the word Crap is an ‘urban myth’ type thing. The word crap predates Thomas Crapper by centuries- check dictionaries that cover slang usage.