We are thinking about giving our daughter the name Fanny. We are Germans, based in Germany but we're really curious about the current usage of this word in Great Britain. We are familiar with the vulgar meaning of the word, but wondering if this is still a sense which is often used and still offensive to others. I can only find postings from years ago on that topic. Thanks a lot for your opinion!


2 Answers 2


The closest you will get to the scientific determination of the rudeness of a word is a public survey. OFCOM, the British media regulator, has conducted research to measure the offensiveness of different words, which was reported on in 2018.

They rate "fanny" as strong: there are four categories of offensive language, mild, medium, strong, and strongest. Fanny is alongside such strong terms as twat, minge, cock, dick, bellend, and bastard, and higher than medium terms including bitch, balls, bollocks, shit, and tits. Strongest includes only 3 terms, which are left as an exercise for the reader.

So it's quite rude.

  • 1
    The last sentence could do with amelioration. // I'd not all have those category strong terms in the same category myself. Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 21:12
  • From that reference 'cow' and 'ginger' are considered mild (of general swears) alongside 'bugger' and 'damn'. (also for USians, OFCOM is the UK version of the FCC)
    – Mitch
    Commented Dec 16, 2021 at 21:40
  • The fact that "dick" is on the list of offensive words shows a weakness of the study. It's only offensive in context, and out of context it lends itself to the title of a series of books aimed at young children, Dick and Jane. (However, I am not sure that a series named "Shit and Jane" would have been allowed, as there's really not a polite meaning for that word.)
    – Laurel
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 1:37
  • "A Swedish woman in London was refused a store loyalty card because her first name was Fanny – but the name does have its advantages" - - a piece in the Guardian by Fanny Johnstone (who is English) theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/19/i-love-being-fanny Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 16:00
  • There is a story, possibly true, about a cinema in Madrid (Spain) in the 1970s where the guy up the ladder putting up the red plastic letters misread the handwritten note he had been given and made the star of a film 'Cunt Eastwood'. The management were curious about the sudden influx of giggling tourists taking photos of each other in front of their entrance, and the mystery was solved when a spoilsport from the British Embassy phoned them. Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 16:05

Fanny is typically a diminutive for Frances, although it can come from other names as well.

However, it is the easy-to-pronounce diminutives that are most likely to have vulgar meanings in other languages.

Practically, a lot of embarassment can be spared by giving a child the full name as their legal name, and using the diminutive only at home, or with family and friends. A child can drop their nickname as a part of growing up. Legal names are a different matter.

Fanny is not a rude word in Canada or the United States. The OFCOM standards mentioned in one of the other answers are mostly applicable to Great Britain, and are probably not universal even there.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.