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At 5:03 pm -0400 28/9/00, John Cowan wrote:
>Raymond Brown wrote:
>
>> Other phrases with similar meanings this side of the pond are:
>> "Bog off!" - go far away & use the bog (i.e. lavatory)
>> "Sod off!" - go far away & commit sodomy
>
>How do we understand "Naff off!" (a Princess-Anne-ism) according
>to this model?

Not only Princess Anne - other Brits used it before her.  But I guess that
being the Princess Royal restricts here; she obviously musn't use "F**k
off" and both "Piss off" and "Bog off" are too lavatorial for royal lips
and royal princesses should not know of sodomy  ;)

"Naff" is normal used as an adjective here and means: worthless, inferior,
vulgar, socially crass.

Thus it is appropriate for the Princess Royal to say:
"Naff off" = go far away and be your vulgar, socially crass self!

The etymology of "naff" is disputed.  Two have been suggested:
(a) That it originated as slang among the armed forces from Naafi /'n@fi/
(Navy, Army, and Air-Force Institutes), an organization providing canteens
for service personnel, thus "naff" contemptuously meant 'shirking';
(b) That it is back-slang for _fan_ (Fanny), a slang term for female genitalia.

As the armed forces were, I believe, generally appreciative of the services
of the Naafi, I think (b) is far more likely.  But I suspect the Princess
Royal is unaware of this and, indeed, couldn't care two hoots for etymology.

Ray.

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A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
                   [J.G. Hamann 1760]
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