Feign Knights

Posted by Mugball-us on January 04, 2005

In Reply to: Feign Knights posted by David FG on January 04, 2005

: : 'Feign Knights' is a phrase used by children in Kent, England, UK. I grew up using this phrase as did all my childhood friends. It was used whilst playing tag games and you crossed your fingers saying 'feign knights' and it meant no one could tag you, you were safe, immune from being caught in the game. I now live in Gloucestershire and they do not use this phrase here and have not even heard of it.

: I can certainly confirm that it is used in Kent - I live there (though I am not a native) but I always thought it was spelled 'fainites': I have to confess I am not at all sure about that, as it is not often one sees it written down.

: It was certainly not used where I grew up - my childhood being divided between the Republic of Ireland and schools in Kent and Berkshire.

: Another peculiarly Kentish usage seems to be 'Monkey Peas' for woodlice.


There is an interesting thread on "faynights" at rootsweb.com (link below). People from the London area mostly, and some Aussies, recall variations like Faynights, Fanites, Fanelights, Vainites, Venites, etc. The most cogent explanation offered by a poster draws on the Shorter Oxford Dictionary (of which I do not have a copy)which says that the expression is from "Fains I" or "Fains it". "Fain" is taken to be a childhood slang term meaning to claim an exemption from some penalty.

The SOD apparently says that the etymology of "fane" is unknown, so I feel free to speculate that it may be from the archaic English word "fane" meaning a temple, shrine or sanctuary.