Why are rabbits called bunnies? Who started that?

I was having this conversation with a co-worker and we can’t figure out why rabbits decided to be called bunnies. Surely it doesn’t have to do with Playboy right? Or Do I need to do some research?

Apparently “bun” is an old Scottish word for rabbit, and bunny comes from that. I always wondered if it was related to the English word coney, which rhymes with bunny.

If you just want the etymology of the word, here’s what etymonline has to say:

Follow up question…What’s the difference between a “rabbit” and a “hare”

Hares are in general larger, hsve precocial young (newborn rabbits are altricial), tend to move fast by leaps and bounds (as opposed to rabbit-style hops) ordinarily have longer ears, and are cooked differently when used for food. Hares are all (AFAIK; the Wikipedia article confirms my memory) in genus Lepus.

Rabbits are mostly smaller, don’t ordinarily leave the ground in moving (walk, run, hop, not leap or bound), in general have smaller ears, and belong to a wide number of other genera, mostly of the form Prefix-i-lagus, in the Family Leporidae (yes, the family is named after the hares), Order Lagomorpha.

While the single-word common names do reflect a “real” difference – a set of several dichotomous characters – the common names of several species “cross the line”: The ‘varying hare’ is a rabbit, the jackrabbit and snowshoe rabbits are hares by the characters above.

The better question is “Bugs Bunny” a rabbit or a hare?

He’s films bill him as sometimes as a rabbit as in “Rabbit Rebel” and sometimes as in “From Hare to Eternity”


It does? I have long been under the impression that the name of Coney Island came from it’s rabbit/coney population and it does not rhyme with bunny there. Not arguing, just surprised.

“Coney”, originally from Latin cuniculus (“rabbit”), did indeed used to rhyme with “bunny” in English. The Online Etymology Dictionary has a nice salacious explanation of why it doesn’t anymore.

So the movie Night of the Lepus was inaccurate because those were actually killer rabbits, not hares? I am frankly shocked that such a great movie would make a mistake but I guess Night of the Lagomorph just wouldn’t have the same terrifying ring to it.

Gee, whoever would have thought Hollywood would lie to us?
Seriously, hares are pretty much untameable whereas rabbits have about as much intelligence as a cat and can be trained somewhat for movie work.

So you’re saying that Ed doesn’t want anybody calling someone else a coney in the Pit (or anywhere else)? :smiley:

All I know is that I am going to call him George…

Whichever is funnier at the time.

As long as you make sure to pronounce it so it rhymes with “boney” and not “bunny”, I think you’re safe.

Personally, I’m a little surprised that the verb “connyfogle” (or “cunnyfogle”) isn’t more widely used on the boards. It just seems like the sort of word we Teeming Millions would like.

And you will hug him and squeeze him and stroke him and pet him and…

I was just about to say: I think I have a new favorite word.

Not that I’ll get an excuse to use it very often.