• bunny •
bê-nee • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A term of endearment for rabbits and, sometimes, for girls and women. 2. A lump or swelling.
In Play: As with Christmas, the ancient Church combined its celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with local customs, giving us the rich mélange of symbols we enjoy today. The Easter Bunny is a holdover from an ancient Anglo-Saxon celebration of the goddess of spring and fertility, Eastre, from which we also derive Easter. The impressive birthrate of bunnies made them the perfect symbol for the goddess of fertility. The egg is also a symbol of birth, new life, and fertility. So, Easter egg hunts are remnants of our pagan ancestry that were later related to the story of the Resurrection. The coloring of Easter eggs originated with the Slavic peoples, and is still preserved today in the elaborate Ukrainian egg designs (pysanky).
Word History: Today's Good Word should mean "a small bun", and guess what—it does! The origin of this word is Celtic bun "stump, bump", which was extended to the tail of a bunny when it was borrowed by the English. From there, it went on to name the entire rear end of the rabbit, at which point the variant bum arose. Finally, it came to refer to the entire rabbit. In the meantime, bun was borrowed by the French, who returned it some time later as bugne "boil, swelling", giving us bun in the culinary sense (not to mention bunion). The use of buns to refer to human bottoms and pastry rolls, amazingly enough, arose from the same source as bunny buns.
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