The hiney virus

A few days ago, a friend mentioned the /hájni/ virus, referring to the H1N1 flu virus, but treating “H1N1” as if it were a piece of leetspeak, with the numeral 1 standing for the letter I, the whole thing pronounced like the North American slang word for ‘buttocks’ (a shortened variant of behind, in combination with the suffix -y). There’s even a t-shirt (and a sweatshirt), on sale here:

The t-shirt uses one of the variant spellings of the buttocks word. The OED entry (draft of December 2006) for the word (which notes that it’s frequently a euphemistic substitute for ass and has cites from 1922 on) gives four spellings: heinie, heiny, hiney, and hinie. Though the OED treats heinie as the main spelling, when the buttocks word appears in combination with virus and flu, the hiney spelling (as on the t-shirt) is by far the most frequent in Google hits. The ordering of the OED‘s spelling variants is the  same for X virus and X flu: hiney first, then (well behind it) heinie, then hinie, then heiny. In addition, there are some occurrences of the spellings heiney and hiny.

One Response to “The hiney virus”

  1. KCinDC Says:

    Also see heenee, HeeNee, hini, HINI for the virus.

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