I know it's no longer used much, having been replaced by the more clinical "cleft lip".

The spelling makes me suspect it's named for the animal, as rabbits have a similar feature on their faces, but couldn't find any decent evidence thereof.

closed as off-topic by Mitch, Gnawme, MetaEd, Fortiter, Kris Jul 30 '13 at 6:57

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references" – Mitch, Gnawme, MetaEd, Fortiter, Kris
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  • See origin here – Mitch Jul 29 '13 at 23:52
  • @Mitch There seems to be inadequate background effort. I vote to close as GR. – Kris Jul 30 '13 at 6:57
  • @Kris, this is an OUTRAGE. Okay, it's not. FWIW, I did search first, but I was on mobile, so while my Google string failed to turn up the answer, I agree that it was pretty findable if I'd simply gone to one or two top references. While I do think this site currently has too many GR sources to realistically expect someone to review them all prior to asking, clearly one or two canonical dictionaries would be reasonable, and this was findable there, so this would be OT regardless. Fair closure. – Jaydles Jul 30 '13 at 14:14

According to the OED, it is:

Fissure of the upper lip, caused by the arrest of development in the upper lip or jaw; so called from the resemblance to the cleft lip of a hare.

  • That shows the question is GR. – Kris Jul 30 '13 at 6:56

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