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Snippa And Willy


There’s an art to columnising. There are only so many interesting subjects that can be written about which is why so many opinion pieces read like they’ve been phoned in by some bored grievance monger.

Thus the art part of it, knowing when one can revisit a subject, or point, or joke, happenstance, as the subject for a piece. Writing much the same piece for different outlets is a no no unless divorced by a period of time. Picking up someone else’s piece and redoing it is allowable in two different ways. Firstly, if in response then it can be immediate. Or, if it’s the same point using perhaps a slightly different exemplar then again a certain amount of time must separate the two.

Less time over different outlets, more for the same one.

Adrian Chiles in today’s Guardian:

But this led us on to nice words for our reproductive organs. Willy, she reminded me, is pimpek (pronounced pimp-ek). Sweet. But ever since I begat daughters I have bemoaned the lack of a sweet word for girls’ bits. Willy is a lovely word: sweet, affectionate, harmless and a bit funny. It’s so bad, and telling, that we don’t have such a thing for girls? What’s our nice little word for vagina? There isn’t one really, is there? The one I hated most when my girls were little was “front bottom”, which is plainly awful. Who thought that one up? “Fanny” was eventually plumped for, in my girls’ case. It kind of did the job, although their grandparents winced. Asked for a better suggestion, they just shrugged helplessly and changed the subject.

My mum said to me that when she was a little girl in the 1940s in Zagreb, she called it her šljiva, which means “plum”. Hmm, more confusion if you ask me. Now they have a better word in Croatian. It is related to the boys’ pimpek: “pipica” (pronounced pip-i-tsa). Trust me, it’s an enchanting, affectionate diminutive.

We ought to have something similar. Honestly, I think it is rather sad and even unhealthy that we don’t have something similar. Or can we all just settle on fanny and be done with it?

OK, yes, fair play, it is an interesting linguistic bit.

Richard Orange in The Observer (sorta, but not quite, different from The Guardian) in 2015:

I only ever speak English to our three-year-old daughter, and my wife only speaks Swedish to her. The one exception is the word snippa. It’s Swedish for a girl’s genitals, the female equivalent of snopp, meaning “willy”, and I can’t find an English word that does the job.

Weirdly, the way columnising works, if Chiles had referred to the earlier piece and said “and here’s another example of this” then he could have published it closer in time to that first one.

Too close together and it’s plagiarism, but “close” is a hugely variable term.

Of course, around here we run the language the other way. Snippa is more usually used to refer to a person who is a right …. .

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4 years ago


Arthur Dent
Arthur Dent
4 years ago

A Lancashire folk song advised young ladies to “keep your hand on your halfpenny”

4 years ago

Entomology and spelling unknown, but a friend’s daughter who is five refers to hers as her mu-mu.

bloke in Germany in New Jersey
bloke in Germany in New Jersey
4 years ago
Reply to  ANNRQ

I hope you meant etymology. The cops should get called now if a five year old has got entomology going on down there.

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