One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small greenish-brown European blenny (fish) of the shoreline and intertidal waters.
Blennius pholis, family Blenniidae
- ‘Stay a while and you might see a fierce territorial dispute between a pair of the shannies or other blenny species.’
- ‘Spider crabs stalked the seabed; wrasse, blennies, shannies and rockling darted over the reefs, and pollack wheeled overhead.’
- ‘There are several other species to look out for, including the less-common Yarrels blenny, the black-faced blenny, the shanny and the butterfish.’
- ‘Within the wreck are conger, lobsters, edible and swimming crabs, packs of prawns, cuttlefish, topknots, flounders, scorpionfish and a host of blennies and shannies.’
- ‘The shanny, or common blenny, is normally shy and quite difficult to spot with his excellent camouflage, but during breeding his colour darkens to grey or black, while the lips go white and he becomes bolder in line with his parental duties.’
Mid 19th century: of unknown origin; compare with earlier shan, in the same sense.
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