Used insultingly to an overweight person, or in modern times jokingly to a woman who is constantly worrying about her weight. ‘What’s the matter, Fatty?’ is addressed to a police sergeant by a seventeen-year-old offender in Ed McBain’s short story First Offence. The speaker means to demonstrate that he is not intimidated by policemen. The Middle Man, by David Chandler, has one man saying to another: ‘Get out of the way, fattie.’ Use of this term is ‘a score that would remain to be settled’.
   The most famous ‘fatty’ in literature, apart from the Billy Bunter of English children’s fiction, is probably Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff. He is never called ‘fatty’, though there are many references to him as: a fat rogue, a gross fat man, fat knight, fat fool. Prince Hal refers to him in Henry the Fourth Part One (2:iv) as a ‘bed-presser’, a ‘horseback-breaker’, a ‘huge hill of flesh’, and calls him to his face ‘thou whoreson, obscene, greasy tallow-catch’. Falstaff in turn comments rudely and forcefully on Prince Hal’s thinness. The Opies, in The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, mention that Falstaff is used as a transferred name for a fat person in some parts of England, as is Billy Bunter the Second.
   Other playground names for a fat child, or street names for a fat adult, include: Balloon, Barrage Balloon, Barrel, Barrel-belly, Blood Tub, Bouncer, Buster, Chubby, Chunky, Crystal Jellybottom, Diddle Diddle Dumpling, Fat belly, Fatty Harbuckle, Flab, Football, Glutton, Grub Tub, Guts, Jelly-belly, Jellywobble, Jumbo, Lumpy, Piggy, Podge, Porker, Porky, Steam-roller, Tank, Ten-ton, Tubs, Tubby, Twoton Tessie. The last of these is used to a fat girl, as is Bessy Bunter, Fatima, and Tubbelina. There are three examples of ‘Fatty’ used to a boy who is given the nickname ‘Piggy’ in Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. The same boy is also called ‘you fat slug’.

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.


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