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coney, n.1

Inflections:   Pl. conies, coneys.

α. ME conyn, ME conyne, ME cunin, ME konyn, ME konyne, 15 cunnin; Sc. pre-17 17– kinnen, 18– kyunnen (Shetland), 19– kionnen (Shetland), 19– kjunin (Shetland), 19– kjunnin (Shetland), 19– kunnin (Orkney), 19– kyoneen (Shetland), 19– kyonin (Shetland).

β. ME coninges (plural), ME connyng, ME connynges (plural), ME conyng, ME conynge, ME cunyng, ME kinyng, ME konyng, ME kuning, 15 cunninges (plural); Sc. pre-17 coning, pre-17 conyng, pre-17 cunning, pre-17 cunnyng, pre-17 cunyng, pre-17 cwyning, pre-17 cwynyng, pre-17 kynning, pre-17 18 cuning, 17–18 kinning; N.E.D. (1891) also records a form ME conninge.

γ. ME conig, ME connygez (plural), ME cunig.

δ. ME conees (plural), ME cones (plural), ME (in a late copy) conies (plural), ME kuynys (plural), ME–16 coni- (in compounds), ME–16 conye, ME– coney, ME– cony, 15 coneye, 15 connes (plural), 15 counnies (plural), 15 cunni- (in compounds), 15 cunnies (plural), 15 konys (plural), 15–16 conie, 15–16 connie, 15–16 connye, 15–16 cunney, 15–16 cunnie, 15–16 18 conny, 15–17 conney, 15–18 (19– Irish English (north.)) cunny, 16 conni- (in compounds), 16 cunie, 17 cooney, 17 cunne- (in compounds), 18– connies (Sc., plural).

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Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Of multiple origins. A borrowing from French. Etymons: French conin; French coni.
Etymology: Partly (i) < Anglo-Norman and Old French conin, Old French, Middle French connin, Middle French counin (French connin  ) rabbit (12th cent.; also in Anglo-Norman as conynge, coning, coninge, couning), alteration (with suffix substitution: compare -in  -ine suffix1) of Anglo-Norman conel  , cunil  , Anglo-Norman and Old French conil  , connil   (see below);
partly (ii) < Anglo-Norman coni, conie, conig, analogical singular of cunis  , coniz  , conys  , plural (see below);
and partly (iii) directly < Anglo-Norman coniz, conys, Anglo-Norman and Old French cunis, Old French connis (12th cent.; compare Old French conilz  ), plural of Anglo-Norman conel  , cunil  , Anglo-Norman and Old French conil  , Old French connil   (Middle French, French connil  ) rabbit (12th cent.) < classical Latin cunīculus   rabbit (also burrow, underground passage, military mine), in post-classical Latin frequently denoting the skin or fur of a rabbit (from 12th cent. in British sources); according to ancient authors (e.g. Pliny) a word of Spanish origin; the ending may show -culus  -culus suffix.
Compare post-classical Latin coninus, cuninus (from 12th cent. in British sources), coningus, cunningus (from 13th cent. in British sources).
Historical background.
Although there is archaeological evidence to suggest that rabbits existed in Britain before the last ice age and that some attempt may have been made to reintroduce them in the Roman period, the rabbit appears to have been unknown to the Anglo-Saxons, and only successfully re-established in Norman times: it has no native name in Celtic or Germanic (Welsh cwning   (collective plural) (14th cent.) is from Middle English; Irish coinnín   and Scottish Gaelic coinean   are from Middle English or Anglo-Norman). Documentary sources indicate that rabbits were farmed on islands off the mainland of England in the 12th cent. and on the mainland from the early 13th cent.; it is notable that the word coney n.1   occurs in English earlier with reference to the fur (perhaps imported) than to the animal.
Potentially anachronistic attestation in Anglo-Saxon charter bounds.
It has been suggested that the word appears as the first element of the toponym conigraue   (second element: grove n.) in the Anglo-Saxon bounds of Marksbury, Somerset, as recorded in a mid 14th-cent. copy of a charter of 936:
c1340  (▸OE)    Bounds (Sawyer 431) in S. E. Kelly Charters of Glastonbury Abbey (2012) 355   On radanforde, þanen endlang brokes on conigraue est and northward, þanen on ryȝte to wedergraue suthward.
This potentially anachronistic early attestation of coney n.1   has been taken as evidence either that the boundary clause is post-Conquest in origin or that the original survey has been updated or revised. (It is noteworthy that the brook mentioned in close proximity to conigraue   is now known as Conygre Brook  , the first element of which is clearly a form of cunnigar n.   ‘rabbit warren’.) It has alternatively been suggested that the bounds may after all be pre-Conquest, but that the manuscript form may result from a post-Conquest scribal error (perhaps influenced by the later name of the brook) for *comgraue   ( < coomb n.2   + grove n.; compare Comegrave  , Staffordshire (1086; now Congreve)), an interpretation which is apparently supported by the local topography. See further S. E. Kelly Charters of Glastonbury Abbey (2012) 357–8.
Parallels in the Romance languages.
With Old French conil  , etc., compare Old Occitan conilh   (1200), conil   (1268), Catalan conill   (14th cent.), Spanish conejo   (1263 or earlier), Portuguese coelho   (1102 as †conelio  ), Italian coniglio   (1353).
Forms in the Germanic languages.
Old French conin   was also borrowed into other Germanic languages; compare Middle Dutch conin  , conijn   (1240, Dutch konijn  ), Middle Low German konīn  , kanīn  , early modern German kanein  , kanin   (mid 15th cent.; compare German Kaninchen  , diminutive). Compare also Old High German cōnol   (12th cent.; < Old French conil  ).
Development of individual senses.
In sense 5   ultimately rendering Hebrew šāpān rock hyrax.
Pronunciation history.
The historical pronunciation is with /ʌ/ or /ʊ/ , as indicated by the early spellings in -u-  ; from the 16th to the 18th cent., δ. forms   of the word are regularly rhymed in verse with honey n.   and money n.   (compare e.g. ?1548   and a1637 at sense 3, 1661 at sense 9, etc., and the common spelling coney  ; see further forms and discussion at cunny n.). The usual current pronunciation with long ō   ( Brit. /əʊ/ , U.S. // ) seems to have become established during the course of the 19th cent., and may in part be a spelling pronunciation reflecting the rarity of the word in general use in standard English at this date, when it may have been most familiar to many from use in the Bible (and especially in the Psalms) as the name of a foreign animal (sense 5). However, this pronunciation is likely to have been reinforced by the desire to avoid association with cunt n.   and related words (compare cunny n.), especially in a religious context. While Walker (1791, at cony) records only the pronunciation with /ʌ/ , Smart (1836) asserts that, although the word is ‘familiarly pronounced’ in this way, the pronunciation with ō is the ‘regular pronunciation..proper for solemn reading’.
 I. Senses relating to the rabbit.

 a. The skin or fur of the rabbit; a rabbit skin.Repopularized as a term of the fur trade in the late 19th cent.; rare (hist. or regional) in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

a1225  (▸?c1175)    Poema Morale (Trin. Cambr.) 365 in R. Morris Old Eng. Homilies (1873) 2nd Ser. 231 (MED),   Ne sal þar ben foh, ne grai, ne cunin [a1225 Egerton kuning, ?c1250 Egerton cunig, a1300 Jesus Oxf. konyng], ne ermine.
c1436   Domesday Ipswich (BL Add. 25011) in T. Twiss Monumenta Juridica (1873) II. 191   Eche c. of lambrys skynnys, bogee, conyns, foxis, cattyn, and of alle other maner skynnes passyng out of the lond.
c1524   in J. Nichols Illustr. Antient Times Eng. (1797) 124   A rosset old gowne with old blak conney.
1559   in Proc. Suffolk Inst. Archaeol. & Nat. Hist. (1874) 4 178   To Eliz., wife to her son John Barnardiston,..her gown of cloth, faced with black conies.
1595   P. Henslowe Diary 27 Aug. (1961) 37   A manes gowne of purpell coller cloth face wth conney.
a1625   J. Fletcher Noble Gentleman v. i, in F. Beaumont & J. Fletcher Comedies & Trag. (1647) sig. Ff2/2,   A quiver of your graces linde with Cunney.
a1641   J. Smyth Berkeley MSS (1883) I. 305   All of them of cloth, and furred with Coney.
1680   S. G. tr. Royal Charter Charles II. City of London 231   Gloves lined with Coney or Lamb-Skins.
a1823   J. N. Johnson Life T. Linacre (1835) v. 262   He..appointed William Page..the overseer of his will, with a bequest to him of his gown of violet engrayned and furred with black coney.
1873   N.-Y. Times 5 Oct. 6/4 (advt.)    Children's furs of every description, including White and Silver-Gray Coney.
1877   E. Peacock Gloss. Words Manley & Corringham, Lincs.   Conies, rabbit-skins.
1905   Washington Post 13 Nov. 7/3   A very stylish red coat of extra flne cloth is lined with coney and ermine.
1979   H. Hood Reservoir Ravine 1 16   A certain youthful tweed coat in all-wool fancy material with..shaded coney at collar and cuffs.
2009   M. Hayward Rich Apparel iv. 102   The darker the fur, the more highly they were prized, so making black coney, black lamb or budge and black genettes all in demand.

a1225—2009(Hide quotations)


 b. orig. U.S. An item of clothing made of rabbit fur or skin.

1855   P. T. Barnum Life 99   If a ‘pedler’ wanted to trade with us for a box of beaver hats,..he was sure to obtain a box of ‘coneys’.
1930   Daily News (Perth) 25 Oct.   Short white coneys trimmed with real ermine tails for evening wear were only £6 6s.
1951   Life 3 Dec. 83   For the innocent fur shopper, lost in the jungle of ‘mink-dyed Baltic coneys’, here is some timely advice on how to keep from getting skinned.
1982   Daily Mail 7 Dec. 12 (advt.)    Our range starts from budget-priced coneys.

1855—1982(Hide quotations)

 2. A rabbit. Now chiefly regional.

 a. As hunted, bred, sold, or prepared for food. Also as a mass noun.  [In quot. c1325   a punning allusion to Peter Conyng  , the name in English of Pieter de Coninck   (c1225–1333; with the surname compare Middle Dutch coninc  king n.), Flemish weaver and leader of a popular rebellion against French rule of Flanders; compare branch III.]

c1325   in R. H. Robbins Hist. Poems 14th & 15th Cent. (1959) 11 (MED),   We shule flo þe Conyng & make roste is loyne; Þe word shal springen of him in to coloyne.
c1350   Nominale (Cambr. Ee.4.20) in Trans. Philol. Soc. (1906) 21*   Deym deyme et conyz, Buk doo and conye.
a1375   William of Palerne (1867) l. 182   Whanne he went hom..he com him-self y-charged wiþ conyng & hares.
a1425  (▸a1399)    Forme of Cury 27 in C. B. Hieatt & S. Butler Curye on Inglysch (1985) 103   Take connynges and smyte hem on pecys.
1466   in Manners & Househ. Expenses Eng. (1841) 435   Item, for a shulder of motone, a brest, and a cony, viij.d.
1560   J. Heywood Fourth Hundred Epygrams xv. sig. Aviv,   Thou sellest..conies in this pultry shoppe.
1572   Taill of Rauf Coilȝear (1882) 209   Of Capounis and Cunningis they had plentie.
1591   J. Lyly Endimion v. ii. sig. H4v,   I preferre an olde Cony before a Rabbet sucker, and an ancient henne before a younge chicken peeper.
1655   T. Moffett & C. Bennet Healths Improvem. ix. 76   The Romans, who fatned young Hares in clappers, as we do Connies.
1687   J. Shirley Accomplished Ladies Rich Closet of Rarities vii. 52   In unlacing a Coney. Turn the belly upwards, cutting the belly-pieces from the Kidneys.
1724   Johnie Armstrang in A. Ramsay Ever Green II. 191   Make Kinnen and Capon ready then, And Venison in great Plenty.
1751   T. Smollett Peregrine Pickle II. lii. 118   The dish had a particular rankness of taste, which he had imputed partly to the nature of the French coney, and partly to the composition of their sauces.
1785   South Cave Inclos. Act. 33   No person shall turn out or stock with conies or rabbits any part of the lands.
a1839   W. M. Praed Poems (1864) I. 133   And filled her kitchen every day With leverets and conies.
1867   Wigan Observer 23 Feb.   Two young men..were charged with trespassing in search of coneys.
1905   W. G. Eley Retrievers & Retrieving i. 42   The wild coney must not be our prey.
1975   I. S. Rombauer & M. R. Becker Joy of Cooking (rev. ed.) 513/1   With protein so sought after, we may all become more interested in having a colony of coneys nearby from which to make Hasenpfeffer.
1983   V. S. Reid Nanny-town xxii. 202   We were also hunting coney and wild pig.
1989   O. Senior Arrival of Snake-woman 32,   I would..hunt birds and coneys and hogs in the woods.

c1325—1989(Hide quotations)


 b. gen. In early use often: spec. (more fully old coney) an adult rabbit; a rabbit over a year old.Rabbit was originally a name for the young animal only: see rabbit n.1 1a.

c1430  (▸c1380)    Chaucer Parl. Fowls (Cambr. Gg.4.27) (1871) l. 193   The litele conyes to here pley gunne hye.
1440   Promptorium Parvulorum (Harl. 221) 421   Rabet, yonge conye, cunicellus.
a1450  (▸c1400)    in D. M. Grisdale 3 Middle Eng. Serm. (1939) 78 (MED),   Þe lion, whan a is an-hungred, a wil nat gladliche tak a litel beste, as an har or a konyng.
1532   Romaunt Rose in Wks. G. Chaucer f. cxxxv/2,   Connes there were also playenge That comyn out of her clapers.
1572   J. Higgins Huloets Dict. (new ed.)    Rabet, or yonge conye.
1575   G. Gascoigne Noble Arte Venerie lxiii. 178   The Conie beareth hyr Rabettes .xxx. dayes.
1597   A. Montgomerie Cherrie & Slae 18,   I sawe the Cunnin [ed. 2 Cunning] and the cat, Quhais downes with the dewe was wat.
1611   R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues   Counilleau, a young Rabbet, little young Connie.
1688   R. Holme Acad. Armory ii. vii. 132   A conie, 1 [year] a Rabett, and after an old Cony.
1699   B. E. New Dict. Canting Crew   Old-Coney, after the first Year.
1735   Sportsman's Dict. II. sig. Ss4v/1,   A coney is called the first year a rabbet, and afterwards an old coney.
1740   Johnson Drake in Gentleman's Mag. Dec. 600   Holes like those of Conies.
1759   S. Johnson Rasselas I. xiii. 93   The conies, which the rain had driven from their burrows, had taken shelter among the bushes.
1820   Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. June 507/2   L. cuniculus. Rabbit... E. Coney. S. Kinnen. The rabbit is common in Scotland and the islands.
1848   E. Bulwer-Lytton Harold III. xii. i. 250   You might see..the hares and conies stealing forth to sport or to feed.
1867   E. Sauter tr. F. von Hochstetter New Zealand 161   It..is of the size of a large cony with a glossy brown fur.
1885   R. Buchanan Annan Water viii,   Conies, like elfin things, gambolled in the grass before her.
1958   Boys' Life Nov. 86/4   In the complete silence that followed her going, the conys crouching in their earth ceased to tremble.
1993   I. Macleod & P. Cairns Conc. Eng.-Scots Dict.   Rabbit, kinnen, kyunnen.
1997   Sydney Morning Herald (Nexis) 16 Jan. 1   The humble cony or European rabbit..has become a major pest throughout The Hills district of Sydney's north-west.

c1430—1997(Hide quotations)


 c. A young rabbit. rare.

1876   C. C. Robinson Gloss. Words Dial. Mid-Yorks.   Coney, usually applied to a young rabbit.
1911   H. W. Ruoff Conc. Graded Repository Pract. & Cultural Knowl. 233/2   Young rabbit; cony.

1876—1911(Hide quotations)


 3. The flesh of a rabbit as food. Now chiefly regional.

a1450   in T. Austin Two 15th-cent. Cookery-bks. (1888) 61   Connyng Rostyd. Curlew. Fesaunt Rostyd.
a1486  (▸c1429)    Menu Banquet Hen. VI in Archaeologia (1900) 57 57   Cony, Chekyn endored, Partriche.
?1548   J. Bale Comedy Thre Lawes Nature ii. sig. Biiijv,   They wyll durty puddynges eate, For wante of befe and conye [rhymes monye, honye, sonnye].
1584   T. Cogan Hauen of Health cxxxv. 121   Conie..so plentifull a meate in this lande.
a1637   B. Jonson Under-woods in Wks. (1640) III. 226   If there be no money, No Plover, or Coney Will come to the Table.
c1675   God speed Plow (new ed.) (single sheet)    At our Table you may Eat All sorts of Dainty Meat; Pig, Cony, Goose, Capon, and Swan.
1778   Journey Dr. Robert Bongout ii. 15   ‘Hostess, quoth he, what hast to eat?’ ‘Cony, good Sir, and butcher's meat’.
1868   All Year Round 29 Feb. 286/2   With pheasant, partridge, or coney they eat mustard and sugar.
1978   U. K. Le Guin Eye of Heron v, in Millennial Women 186   The supreme moment of the dinner arrived, the meat course, roast coney.
2007   T. Williams Shadowplay vi. 75   And that other, yes, th'un with yellow berries..makes a fine stew with coney or water rat.

a1450—2007(Hide quotations)


 4. Chiefly Heraldry. A representation of a rabbit.

1598   J. Stow Suruay of London 212   A signe of three Conies, hanging ouer a Poulters stall.
1610   J. Guillim Display of Heraldrie iii. xvi. 148   He beareth Argent, three Conies Sable.
1641   J. Yorke Union of Honour Suppl. 18, 3   Conies currant argent.
1765   ‘M. A. Porny’ Elem. Heraldry v. 111   The relation of some Creatures, Figures, &c. to particular names, has been likewise a very fruitful source for variety of Arms; thus the family of Coningsby bears three Coneys.
1869   J. E. Cussans Handbk. Heraldry (rev. ed.) vi. 83   A Hare or Rabbit (heraldically termed Coney).
1875   Relquary July 50   A hawk, with wings expanded proper, belled or, preying upon a coney argent.
1908   W. B. Bannerman Miscellanea Genealogica & Heraldica II. 4th ser. 51   A coney sejant argent, on a wreath argent and gules.
1931   Bull. Mus. Fine Arts (Boston) 29 44/1   He usually marked his plate with one of two stamps—his initials, I C, with a cony below in a shield punch or [etc.].
2005   Derby Evening Tel. (Nexis) 3 Nov. 20   One of the tombs displays a shield of arms, the quarterings of which include that unforgettable ‘canting’ coat of the Hopwells or Hopwell: ‘three conies playing on bagpipes’.

1598—2005(Hide quotations)

 II. Senses relating to other animals.

 5. A hyrax; esp. (orig. in translations of the Bible, later usu. with allusion to it) the rock hyrax, Procavia capensis, widespread in Africa and the Middle East.

a1425  (▸c1395)    Bible (Wycliffite, L.V.) (Royal) (1850) Lev. xi. 5   A cirogrille [L. chyrogryllius], ether a conyng [a1450 Corpus Cambr. or a cony].
1535   Bible (Coverdale) Psalms ciii. [civ.] 18   The hilles are a refuge for the wylde goates, and so are the stony rockes for ye conyes.
1568   Bible (Bishops') Prov. xxx. 26   The conies are but a feeble folke, yet make their boroughes among the rocks.
1611   Bible (King James) Deut. xiv. 7   The camel, and the hare, and the cony.
1834   T. Pringle Afr. Sketches vi. 204   Rocky ravines inhabited by..the das or coney.
1857   D. Livingstone Missionary Trav. 22   A variety of preparations, such as..inspissated renal deposit of the mountain Coney (Hyrax capensis).
1885   Bible (R.V.) Lev. xi. 7   The Coney [margin The Hyrax Syriacus or rock-badger.].
1891   Daily News 9 Nov. 5/5   Among the novelties lately added to the collection of living animals in the Regent's Park is a coney or hyrax belonging to a different species.
1931   Times Educ. Suppl. 22 Aug. iv/3   Hyraxes, known also as ‘Dassies’, or ‘Rock-rabbits’, the conies of the Bible.
1968   I. W. Cornwall Prehistoric Animals & their Hunters vii. 138   The living hyraxes are of two genera: Procavia, including the biblical ‘coney’ and the ‘dassie’ of South Africa, and Dendrohyrax.
2006   K. D. Rose Beginning Age Mammals xiii. 257/2   The Hyracoidea are represented today by the rabbit-sized dassies or hyraxes of Africa (referred to as conies in the Old Testament).

a1425—2006(Hide quotations)


 6. Any of various smaller mammals of the New World; esp. the guinea pig ( Cavia porcellus), the agouti (genus Dasyprocta), and (in recent use) the American pika ( Ochotona princeps). Freq. with distinguishing word.

1555   R. Eden tr. Peter Martyr of Angleria Decades of Newe Worlde iii. viii. f. 134v,   In the citie of Dominica..connies [L. cuniculos], (whiche they caule Vtias beynge no bygger then myse).
1607   E. Topsell Hist. Fovre-footed Beastes 112   The Indian little Pig-Cony..is..more tractable in hand; howbeit vntamable.
1710   Brit. Apollo III. No. 70. 2/1   A Guinea Pig..in Johnston's Natural History goes by the Name of a Spanish Coney.
1796   J. G. Stedman Narr. Exped. Surinam II. xxii. 153   The long-nosed Cavy..or Indian Coney. In Surinam..there is still another species of the Agouti, called the Indian Rat-Coney, on account of its having a long tail.
1898   Outing Jan. 361/2   The jubilant warble of bright-winged birds, the chipper and startled rush of shy Indian conies.
1946   National Geographic Mag. July 65/2   This gives way to treeless savannas and boulder-strewn mountain summits where the shrill-voiced conies, or pikas..live.
2006   B. Filley Discovering Wonders of Wonderland Trail 216   Such slopes are the natural homes of hoary marmots and conies (pikas).

1555—2006(Hide quotations)


 7. Any of several small groupers (fishes) of the Caribbean and West Atlantic; spec. Cephalopholis fulva, which occurs in various colour phases. Cf. coney fish n. 1.

1884   G. B. Goode in G. B. Goode et al. Fisheries U.S.: Sect. I 412   The Coney, Epinephelus apua, of Key West, the Hind of Bermuda, is an important food-fish which occurs throughout the West Indies.
1919   Ann. Rep. N.Y. Zool. Soc. 1918 114 (table)    Yellow Coney or Butterfish, Bodianus fulvus.
1958   Ecology 39 145/1   The coney (Cephalopholis fulvus) has habits somewhat comparable to those of the hind.
2007   F. Sunquist et al. Florida (new ed.) 450/1 (caption)    Coney Epinephelus fulvus. This common small grouper exhibits a wide range of color patterns.

1884—2007(Hide quotations)

 III. With reference to a person. Cf. also quot. c1325 at sense 2a.

8. A soldier who constructs underground passages. Obs.

a1450  (▸1408)    tr. Vegetius De Re Militari (Douce) f. 107 (MED),   Mynoures þat ben cleped here coninges [v.r. conyes]..sometyme þei þat þus myneþ entreth be nyght..in to þe citee.

a1450—a1450(Hide quotations)


 9. Used as a term of endearment, orig. for a woman. Now arch. or literary.

a1529   J. Skelton Tunnyng of Elynour Rummyng in Certayne Bks. (?1545) sig. Dv,   He calleth me his whytyng..His nobbes and his conny.
a1556   N. Udall Ralph Roister Doister (?1566) i. iv. sig. C.j,   Ah sweete lambe and coney.
1560   J. Heywood Fourth Hundred Epygrams xv. sig. Aviv,   Iane thou sellst sweete conies in this pultry shoppe: But none so sweete as thy selfe, sweete conye moppe.
1598   G. Chapman Blind Begger v. 37   New fashion terms I like not; for a man To call his wife cony, forsooth, and lamb And pork and mutton, he may as well say.
1613   F. Beaumont Knight of Burning Pestle Prol. sig. B1v,   Wife..Husband, husband... Cit. What sayst thou cunny?
1640   R. Brathwait Ar't Asleepe Husband? 47   Pray thee chick, what art' doing? Praying, Coney, said he. For what, Pigs-nie, said shee?
1661   J. Phillips Wit & Drollery 26   My Willy my Billy, my Hony my conny, My love my dove my dear.
1767   ‘A. Barton’ Disappointment i. 25   And can you leave me so soon, my dear Cooney?
1820   Blackwood's Edinb. Mag. July 439   And, so my loving Joan, my dear—dear, Cony.
1823   ‘J. Bee’ Slang 106   Ironing—i. e. Irony; e. g. ‘Bill Noon, you are one of the best in all England, for nollidje and for larning.’ ‘Nay, nay, my Coney, now you're ironing me—all down the back.’
1933   W. H. Auden Poems (ed. 2) 58   What's in your mind, my dove, my coney.
2001   M. L. Settle I, Roger Williams xiii. 158   My little Puritan coney, my pretty boy, thou hast naught but these.

a1529—2001(Hide quotations)


 10. The victim or target of a swindler; a dupe; a gullible person. Now hist.See note at coney-catcher n. 1.

1591   R. Greene Notable Discouery of Coosenage f. 8v,   In Conny-catching Law. He that is coosened [is called] the Conny.
1592   ‘C. Cony-Catcher’ Def. Conny-catching sig. B4,   An old Cony-catcher..that could lurtch a poore Conie of so many thousands at one time.
1607   E. Sharpham Fleire ii. sig. D2,   An olde Courtier that best knew the tricks on't, was mumbling of a Cunnie in a corner alone by himselfe.
1699   B. E. New Dict. Canting Crew   Cony, a silly Fellow.
1736   N. Bailey et al. Dictionarium Britannicum (ed. 2)    Tom-Cony, (with the Vulgar) a very silly fellow.
1873   Long Ago Aug. 249/1   ‘Coney-court’, now Gray's Inn-square, may have been often resorted to for redress by the plundered Conies.
1904   C. S. Alden in B. Jonson Bartholmew Fayre 174   The Coney was the dupe, the gull, the victim of the cony-catcher.
2002   C. Sullivan Rhetoric of Credit iii. 50   The reader has the smug certainty that he would never be as foolish as the cony..and that he is up to the mark in the latest chicanery.

1591—2002(Hide quotations)



 C1. General attrib. in senses of branch I.

 a. Of or relating to a coney (in various senses).Recorded earliest in coney-cheaping n. at Compounds 3. See also coneygarth n., coney warren n., etc.

?a1325  (▸1320)    in H. T. Riley Munimenta Gildhallæ Londoniensis (1860) II. 344 (MED),   De Paternosterlane usque Conichepynge [in the neighbourhood of St Paul's].
1439–40   Rolls of Parl.: Henry VI (Electronic ed.) Parl. Nov. 1439 §50. m. 3,   All maner of hides, calves skynnes, connyngfell.
a1475   Dis. Hawk (Harl. 2340) f. 35v (MED),   Of An har fote or of A Cony fote.
a1500  (▸a1451)    in Ld. Clermont Wks. J. Fortescue (1869) I. 554 (MED),   8 Conyfell.
1600   N. Breton Pasquils Mad-cap 41   And bid Play-writers better spend their spirites, Than in Fox-borowes, or in Cony ferrits.
a1643   W. Cartwright Lady-errant v. i, in Comedies (1651) sig. e4v,   We must carry..Bird-Cages And Cony-Coopes.
1714   tr. French Bk. of Rates 224   Coney-Wool or Hair, which the Hatters and other Dealers bring from Foreign Parts.
1722   Game Law: Pt. I (ed. 6) App. 52   The Cross-Bows, Hays, Cony-Nets, Tunnels, [etc.].
1878   R. Browning La Saisiaz in La Saisiaz: Two Poets of Croisic 42   Classed Once more among the cony-kind.
a1910   W. F. Butler Autobiogr. (1911) xx. 360   The naked children ran like little black rabbits in a coney hutch.
1968   Canad. Geogr. Jrnl. Feb. 72/3   The quantity of hay [which the Little Coney or pika stores away] in the coney barns varies from what might fill a peck measure to a huge armful.
2009   A. Johnson Vow of Seduction xv. 269   Several coney pelts were piled up next to an ash-filled fire pit in the middle of the clearing.

?a1325—2009(Hide quotations)


 b. Cookery. In sense 3, esp. in coney pie.

c1630   T. Dekker et al. Welsh Embassador (1920) 69   Pud trigs vppon a welse man yes when can tell does her masesty invite to fine seere of Cunny pies.
1685   tr. M. Alemán Spanish Rogue i. ix. 47,   I found, amongst other refuse things, the shank-bone of a Heifer, which I neatly wrapt in the Paste, that it seemed a very fair Coney-pie.
1824   C. R. Forrester Castle Baynard i. 2   How thou didst gobble up the coney pie while we were laughing.
1879   W. H. Dixon Royal Windsor I. xxv. 258   Coney pie, hart pie, roe pie, are heaped on the board.
2005   J. Gavron Acre of Barren Ground 281   The rabbits would make a break for it and the boys would hit them with their sticks and everyone would eat coney stew for supper that night.

c1630—2005(Hide quotations)


  coney fur   n.

1597   in D. Yaxley Researcher's Gloss. Hist. Documents E. Anglia (2003) 58   One ould cunnyfer bedd.
1600   N. Breton Pasquils Mistresse sig. Gv,   A thousand gownes are surd with Cony furre.
1708   Chamberlayne's Magnæ Britanniæ Notitia (1743) i. i. iv. 32   England produceth..wax, tallow, coney-furs, etc.
1844   J. Backhouse Narr. Visit Mauritius & S. Afr. xxiii. 52   Enveloped in a karross of Coney-fur.
1942   Billboard 30 May 76/1 (advt.)    Pieced Seal Dyed Coney Fur Jackets.
2000   R. Trezise In & out of Goldfish Bowl (2001) i. 11   The white and fawn coney-fur coats he'd bought for my mother over the past seventeen years.

1597—2000(Hide quotations)


  coney skin   n.

c1450   in J. C. Tingey Rec. City of Norwich (1910) II. 235,   C conynskynnys.
1459   Inventory Fastolf's Wardrobe in Paston Lett. (1904) III. 181   Item, j redde panne of kinyng skynnys.
a1500   in N. S. B. Gras Early Eng. Customs Syst. (1918) 192   An hundred conyne skynns.
1664   S. Pepys Diary 15 Oct. (1971) V. 298,   I find that a coney-skin in my breeches preserves me perfectly from galling.
1728   Stamford Mercury 4 Apr. 106/1   Goods Exported..11100 Coney Skins.
1857   Let. 20 July in Ann. Rep. Foreign Commerce (U.S. Senate, 35th Congr., 1st Sess.) (1858) 134   The rate for shaving 100 cony skins has been advanced ¼ florin.
1940   C. M. B. Older Love Stories of Old Calif. vii. 94   Gladly she put away her tule skirt and the little mantle of coney skin.
2000   G. Gilman Cloud & Ashes (2009) i. 1   In his pack are bacca pipes, new ones, white as bones, and snuff and coney-skins and cards.

c1450—2000(Hide quotations)


coney-white   n.  [white n.1 9] Obs.

1619   T. Middleton Triumphs Loue & Antiq. sig. D,   Cony white, Yellow, Black must haue a Name.
a1627   T. Middleton & W. Rowley Old Law (1656) iii. 38   Oh this same cunny white takes an excellent black.

1619—a1627(Hide quotations)


 (b) Made of coney fur or skin, as coney coat, etc. Cf. sense 1.

1833   Boston (Mass.) Courier 28 Nov. (advt.)    Also—6 cases Coney Hats.
1843   Accts. & Papers (House of Commons) LIX. 177,   17/ 12 dozen coney hats.
1907   Automobile 28 Nov. 818/2   A fifty-four inch white Coney coat lined with white satin.
1978   M. Moorcock Gloriana xv. 164   The gagtoothed knave, Quire's lieutenant, in his coney cap and his overlarge leather greatcoat.
2000   M. J. Carr Grains of Sand xv. 289   Why do you think you'll need this and your coney coat in Spain in the middle of summer?

1833—2000(Hide quotations)

 C2. Objective. See also coney-catcher n.

  coney-stealer   n. now hist. and rare

1629   J. Shirley Wedding ii. i. sig. D2,   There are Cony-stealers abroad sir.
1677   R. Plot Nat. Hist. Oxford-shire 209   The very Cony-stealers that were abroad that night..for hast..left their Ferret in the Cony-boroughs behind them.
1832   Scott in Woodstock (rev. ed.) App. to Introd. p. xxix,   This night it happened that there were six cony-stealers, who were come with their nets and ferrets to the cony-burrows by Rosamond's Well.
1899   T. F. Kirby Wykeham's Reg. II. 149   Monition for deer and coney stealers in the bishop's park and warren at Fareham.
1905   M. Bateson Rec. Borough Leicester III. ccclxii. 339   Has received Beaumont's letter on certain coney stealers.

1629—1905(Hide quotations)


coney-cheaping   n. Obs. rare a market selling rabbits.


coney-clapper   n.  [ < coney n.1 + clapper n.2] Obs. a rabbit burrow.

1530   J. Palsgrave Lesclarcissement 208/1   Cony hole or clapar, taisniere.
1572   T. Wilson Disc. Vsurye f. 100v,   The poore gentleman is caught in the Cony clapper.
1672   T. Manley Clerks Guide ii. 354   And at the end, &c. to leave the Berry and Coney-clappers sufficiently covered with thorn, and also the same ground and Berry of Conies sufficiently replenished and stored with Conies, Covenants for enjoying, &c.
1761   J. Mordant Compl. Steward II. 293   And also at the end or sooner determination of this demise, leave the berry and coney-clappers sufficiently covered with thorn, furz, heath, or such other cover as the said ground or warren naturally, or is prone by nature and quality to produce.

1530—1761(Hide quotations)


coney-close   n. Obs. a rabbit warren.

?1472   E. Paston in Paston Lett. & Papers (2004) I. 635   Yt happyd hym..in þe konynere-closse.
1769   J. Wallis Nat. Hist. Northumberland I. i. 230   A close, called, The coney-close.

?1472—1769(Hide quotations)


coney-gat   n.  [ < coney n.1 + gate n.1 (compare forms at that entry)] Obs. rare a rabbit burrow.

1591   G. Peele Speeches to Q. Eliz in Wks. (1861) (modernized text) 579   This weasel-monger, who is no better than a cat in a house or a ferret in a cony-gat.

1591—1591(Hide quotations)


  coney ground   n. now hist. and rare a rabbit warren.

1617   J. Minsheu Ὴγεμὼν είς τὰς γλῶσσας: Ductor in Linguas   Conie-catcher..taken from those that vse to robbe Warrens and Conie grounds.
a1637   B. Jonson Newes from New World 41 in Wks. (1640) III   Forrests, Parks, Coney-ground, Meadow-pasture.
1784   Hist. Proc. & Deb. House of Commons XV. 182   An honourable baronet had said, that the owners of warrens in Norfolk would..convert their coney grounds into arable lands.
1885   W. Wheater Old Yorks. 2nd Ser. 173   All labourers, servants, and grooms, having greyhounds and other dogs, and who on feast-days,..congregate to hunt in parks, warrens, and coney-grounds.
1951   Month Sept. 172   Conies from Sir Christopher Hatton's coney ground were running in and out of the church.

1617—1951(Hide quotations)


  coney man   n. now hist. and rare a dealer in rabbits.

1529   in A. F. Johnston & M. Rogerson Rec. Early Eng. Drama: York (1979) I. 250   Euery common Cony man yat brynges Conys to this City to selle vj d by yere.
1590   Extract Reg. Church of Holy Trinity, Hull in Yorks. Archæol. Jrnl. (1898) 14 197   John Blagbrowgh, Conneyman.
1874   Q. Rev. 137 18   Content to entrust their letters..to a coneyman who came from London to buy rabbits.
1892   Edinb. Rev. July 235   All letters were conveyed to and fro by a ‘coneyman’ who visited the island at short intervals to buy rabbits for the London markets.
1956   M. C. Barnes Mary of Carisbrooke xi. 103   The few letters we wrote before you all came were taken across by the coney man who sells our rabbits in the mainland markets.

1529—1956(Hide quotations)


coney pear   n. Obs. rare a variety of pear with soft flesh.

1600   R. Surflet tr. C. Estienne & J. Liébault Maison Rustique iii. xlix. 537   Tender and delicate peares, such as..the little conie peare [Fr. conillart].

1600—1600(Hide quotations)


coney-vaulted adj. Obs. rare having a winding cavity, like a rabbit burrow.

1585   J. Banister Wecker's Compend. Chyrurg. iii. 492   Deepe, cunniuaulted, or cauernous vlcers..make many turninges and fouldinges, out of sight.

1585—1585(Hide quotations)


coney yard   n.  [probably attested earlier as a field name; compare Conyngyerd', Halton, Cheshire (1487; 1507 as Conygarth, 1650 as Cony-Greene Close; now lost)] Obs. (hist. in later use) a rabbit warren.

1532   in Rec. Soc. Lincoln's Inn (1897) I. i. 233   None of the Companye shall bere hys bow bent withyn the Cony yard, nor hunt nor kyll any Conys, apon payn of xld.
1539–40   Bks. Court Augmentations in J. Gairdner & R. H. Brodie Lett. & Papers Reign Henry VIII (1896) (modernized text) XV. 567   Robt. Southwell,..with the coney-yard and the right of fishing and hawking in Bermondsey and Rederyghe marshes.
1647   L. Haward Charges Crown Revenue 41   For keeping the Cony-Yard, Fee: 18l. 5s. 0d.
1663   in Cal. State Papers, Domest. Ser., Charles II, 1663–4 (1862) (modernized text) 45   Grant to George Kirk of the office of keeping the King's palace called York Place, [Whitehall], with the great garden and orchards, bowling alleys and coney yard near the Cockpit.
1753   Act confirming Exchange between Prebend of Stillington & S. Croft 2   All Coney-yards, Coney-grees, with the whole Profits and Advantages of Conies there.
1860   R. F. Williams Domest. Mem. Royal Family II. v. 128   For the coney yard 18l. 5s.

1532—1860(Hide quotations)