Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Tue Dec 21 17:04:23 UTC 2004

Dave Wilton wrote:

> I haven't heard the initialisms explanations. Could you elaborate?

One I've heard is that the word is somehow short for "Bergen, Essex
and New York"; the other is that railway porters used to tag luggage
with some variant of BNY, though why I haven't found out. Conversely,
your stories are all new to me: the word seems replete with folk
etymolgical underpinnings.

A study of derogatory terms for visitors might be interesting. The
two I know best are "emmet" (in Cornwall, from an old name for an
ant) and "grockle" (in Devon).

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: <wordseditor at>
Web: <>

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