Printable Version
Pronunciation: pæn-i-kin Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A cup or small pan. 2. (Regional slang) Head, noggin, bean, noodle.

Notes: Like cannikin, man(n)ikin, and lambkin, today's word preserves the Old English diminutive suffix -kin, cousin of German -chen. It is still alive in Australia and New Zealand, though it is pretty much dated everywhere else in the English-speaking world.

In Play: Any small cup qualifies as a pannikin: "After work the men used their pannikins for something a bit stronger than water." It may be used figuratively, too: "I enjoyed your pannikin of wisdom very much, but now I really must go." In Australia and New Zealand it is a slang word for head: "Are you off your pannikin?! I can't do that!"

Word History: As mentioned above, this word comprises pan + -(i)kin. Pan has many Germanic cousins, including Danish pande, Dutch pan, German Pfanne, Norwegian panne, and Swedish panna. These probably resulted from an early borrowing from Vulgar (street) Latin patna, reduced from Classical Latin patina "dish, shallow pan". (How it ended up in English with its current meaning is mentioned here.) Latin inherited its word from PIE pet-ano, based on pet-/pot- "wide, spread out", found also in Greek petassmos "spreading out" and petalia "flat dish", Lithuanian petys "shoulder", and English fathom "the length of outstretched arms". (Now a grateful nod to Gary Cook, who keeps contributing remarkable Good Word like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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