n. — Saskatchewan, Clothing
a hooded sweatshirt (see Image 1).
Type: 1. Origin — Bunnyhug or bunny hug 'hooded sweatshirt' is virtually restricted to Canada (see Chart 1). In fact, the term is almost exclusively restricted to Saskatchewan (see Chart 2), since a bunnyhug is better known in other provinces as a hoodie or hooded sweatshirt, terms also used elsewhere (see also the third 2007 quotation). Many younger speakers in Saskatchewan purportedly index the term as a marker of Saskatchewan identity, which elevates it to the status of a provincial marker.
Although its origins are uncertain, some sort of metaphorical transfer, either from the cozy embrace of the soft garment or the shape of the hood seems most likely (see the second fist note for one such metaphorical transfer scenario).
- The 1978 quotation suggests that originally bunny hug was used adjectivally. Since the 1990s it is most often used as a noun, e.g. She is wearing a bunny hug.
The historical record, starting in the 1990s in the present form as a noun and in the late 1970s with the use as a modifier, casts doubt on the connection with the Bunny Hop dance (see the second 2007 quotation). It seems more plausible, given this timeline, that the name is derived from a similarity in shape of the worn bunny hug (see Image 1) with rabbit ears, i.e. bunny ears, that closely hug the head, or a similar metaphorical transfer. If that type of scenario is correct, sociolinguistic findings (e.g. Eckert 2000) would suggest a particular social group as the innovators: it stands to reason that in the 1980s, when hoodies became widespread (note again the 1978 first attestation in a preliminary form), a special role was played by Saskatchewan teenagers in this term's development and spread. This is, so far, based only on circumstantial evidence, but the scenario is perhaps more realistic than the existing ones (see the 2007 quotation) and is, moreover, in line with the attested evidence (SD 31 May 2016).
- 1978  LOST - at Memorial Lake Sun., June 18th, one rust colored bunny hug jacket, with prescription sunglasses in pocket.
- 1991  A sales table for commemorative T-shirts, caps and bunny-hugs attracted a steady line-up of customers. The apparel was earlier modelled by Mayor Bob Briggs, Dorwin and Wendy Person, as well as Nicole, Afton and Jordon Person. [...] The Village of Canwood purchased the bunny-hug, to be signed by all committee members and presented to chairman Doris Wreford.
- 1998  Only in Canada, you say?
Canadian words and phrases from The Canadian Oxford Dictionary :
barbotte: a large catfish; a gambling game similar to craps but played with three dice
brown cow: a cocktail of coffee liqueur and milk or cream
bunny hug: a hooded sweatshirt
clumper: a large floating chunk of ice
- 1999  Ashley Farion and his sisters Christa and Siglinda Polan also drove in from Dalmeny and were comparing bargains with Elder.
Christa Polan bought two T-shirts for $20, while her sister loaded up on shirts, pants, a bunny hug and perfume.
"This will last me for the rest of the year," Christa Polan joked.
The teenagers were among thousands who made the annual Boxing Day pilgrimage to Saskatoon malls and stores Sunday.
- 2001  For all other Grade 12 students, don't forget that grad pictures are this week as well. Aftergrad tickets for you and your escort will be sold this week, as well as bunnyhugs for the graduating class. This is the start of many activities that lead up to the big day in June.
- 2005  Wolfe: Name something that proves you're Saskatchewan born and bred.
Wickenheiser: I still call it a bunnyhug. (Laughs)
- 2007  Where the term bunny hug came from is still open to interpretation, Cottenie said.
The Bunny Hug is also a sultry dance move that originated in the early 1900s.
"It was basically the two dancers grinding together," Cottenie said. "I don't know how that could have a link with this sweatshirt."
It's more likely the shirt's name has a link to the Bunny Hop dance -- a 1950s craze in which people formed a chain by wrapping their arms around the waist of the person in front of them.
"That pouch pocket is right where the other person's hands are, so that seems a little more likely there's a connection there," Cottenie said.
His research shows people called the sweaters bunny hugs as early as the 1960s, and the phrase seems to have originated in the Prince Albert-Melfort and Yorkton areas, he said.
Other theories on the origin of the term include the resemblance of the points of the bunny hug hood to bunny ears, and that the warm, fleecy lining feels soft like a bunny and wraps around you like a hug, according to Cottenie's research.
- 2007  Even though Saskatchewan residents don't have a distinct accent like Newfies, there are still words unique to the province such as bunnyhug (known as a hoodie in the rest of the world) and frajolaki (essentially souvlaki on a bun).
- 2007  From Estevan to Pierceland, the bunny hug was common currency.
Bunny hug wasn't able to burrow under borders to the west or south, though. One survey respondent from Lloydminster reported people on the Alberta side of the border city say hoodie, while their Saskatchewan neighbours stick with bunny hug. A couple of North Dakota students had never heard the term before.
- 2008  Another time, a bunny hug-clad figure ran off with several bags of empty bottles from her yard.
- 2012  Let's face it: You can't cover the tights with a bunny hug on the football field. Between the pants and the tighter-than-skin jerseys, you pretty much have to go with what your mama gave you because there is no amount of fashion that can hide a grader-butt or a massive, triple-roll boiler belly (thank goodness the strength trainer makes you do squats until you puked and my mom's genes blessed me with a flat stomach).
- 2016  All over Cape Breton, there are more of those hand-lettered “No Hoodie” signs taped to the doors of corner stores, amid the lottery flyers, church dinner announcements, and bingo reminders. When did the lowly bunny hug — as it is known on the prairies — that fleecy, handwarming, conveniently comfortable, slouch-about garment become a fearful symbol of mal-intent?