"there be dragons" ("jenny hanivers")

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jan 31 18:44:40 UTC 2012

In a region of the seas not yet re-examined by the OED (the Js),
there be jenny hanivers.  (Wikipedia: A Jenny Haniver is the carcass
of a <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajiformes>ray or a
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajidae>skate which has been modified
and subsequently dried, resulting in a grotesque preserved specimen.)

Earliest I see in Google Books:

The Australian Museum Magazine, vol. 3, allegedly 1927.  (Vol. 1 is
Apr. 1921, according to the Harvard catalog.)  Snippet.

p. 263:  "I have been unable to learn the source of the name Jenny
Haniver. Perhaps it belonged to some second-sighted fishwife who long ago ..."

p. 264:  "... a skate with malformed pectorals, but I am inclined to
regard it as a Jenny Haniver, fantastically incised perhaps by some
cunning alchemist and vigorously depicted by a skillful artist. The
figure is copied here, as is also one of a more normal Jenny Hanivr
which was associated with it on the same plate in Aldrovandus' ancient work."

And 1934, from The Scientific Monthly, vol. 38, and Time, vol. 23,
part 2.  Also allegedly and snippets.

In use in the 2000s, including it seems in 5 different books by Philip Reeve.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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