Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sweet Fanny Adams n.

also S.F.A., sweet F.A., sweet Fatty Arbuckle
[euph. for sweet fuck all under sweet adj.1 ; the identity of Fanny Adams remains a mystery and is presumably based only on the initial letters; however note cit. 1999]

1. absolutely nothing at all.

[UK]Derby Dly Teleg. 27 Jan. 2/4: Described as ‘the go one better’ revue, ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ or ‘San Fari Ann,’ whichever way one reads the posters.
[UK](con. WW1) P. MacDonald Patrol 19: Hon all sides, wot did the soldjers see? ’Y, sweet Fanny Adams!
[UK](con. 1914–18) Brophy & Partridge Songs and Sl. of the British Soldier 123: F.A.—Sometimes lengthened into Sweet F.A. or bowdlerized into Sweet Fanny Adams. Used to mean ‘nothing’ where something was expected.
The Two Lesleys ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ 🎵 Sweet F.A.
Eve. Post (Wellington, NZ) 27 Oct. 24/1: That was not [...] the ‘Fanny Adams’ alluded to by soldiers, but ‘sweet Fanny Adams’.
[Aus]‘Sweet Fanny Adams’ in Mess Songs & Rhymes of the RAAF 27: Now all that is left on the old oak tree / Is SWEET F.A.
[UK]K. Amis letter 24 Oct. in Leader (2000) 99: Needless to say, there was sweet fa by me in it.
[Aus]D. Stivens Jimmy Brockett 124: You got sweet F.A. from that crowd.
[UK]F. Norman Fings I i: What you got? You know damn well wot I got – sweet fanny adams.
[UK]I. Fleming For Your Eyes Only (1962) 165: For three months of the year I have a fine holiday that costs me just sweet Fatty Arbuckle!
[Aus]B. Humphries Barry McKenzie [comic strip] in Complete Barry McKenzie (1988) 101: I feel kinda proud sittin’ here doin’ sweet Fanny Adams.
[Aus]J. O’Grady Aussie Eng. (1966) 78: S.F.A. Or Sweet F.A. Nothing.
[UK](con. 1913) A.R. Cooper Born to Fight 61: [W]hen I wondered what my pay would be there was an answering chorus of, ‘Sweet F.A.’.
[UK]G.F. Newman Sir, You Bastard 124: You’ve sweet FA to lose anyway.
[UK]F. Norman Too Many Crooks Spoil the Caper 109: Nothing, sweet Fanny Adams, not a sausage.
[UK]P. Bailey An Eng. Madam 36: You got me for sweet Fanny Adams.
[Aus]B. Humphries Complete Barry McKenzie 11: Sweet F.A. That’s what I got for flogging the local drop in this dump.
[UK]Indep. Mag. 16 Oct. 35: The expression ‘sweet FA,’ for instance, refers to little Fanny Adams, an eight-year-old girl who was dismembered in a Hampshire hop garden in 1867.
[Scot]I. Rankin Dead Souls 156: It seems like a lot of hard work and sweet FA to show for it.
[UK]J. King White Trash 258: Nurses [...] lend a helping hand and get sweet FA in return.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 1 Oct. 5: I have Sweet Fanny Adams left in my wallet.
[Aus](con. 1960s-70s) T. Taylor Top Fellas 58/2: [The books] have sweet Fatty Arbuckle to do with your genuine article skinheads.
[Aus]P. Temple Truth 53: Chief Commissioner David Gillam, the so-called new broom, done nothing except sweep the dirt around and under the carpet. Achieved sweet fanny.
[UK]in Guardian 2 Aug. 🌐 Trumps mission is to rescue America from the evil that is Clinton. Obama has done sweet FA in 8 years, Clinton will just carry that on whilst quietly raping the coffers.
[Aus]C. Hammer Silver [ebook] ‘Then we [...] get a court order to sell the factory and the land, and distribute any proceeds. But it would be cents in the dollar. Sweet FA’.

2. the buttocks, the posterior [play on fanny n.1 (3)].

[UK]J. Curtis They Drive by Night 275: All I got to do is weigh up when the topper’s likely to get to work and give a jump into the air. Well, down I come on sweet fanny adams and break my bleeding neck. It’s me who’s killed myself.

3. nonsense; as an excl.: rubbish! piffle!

[UK]G. Kersh They Die with Their Boots Clean 78: Never, definitely never, have I heard such a load of Sweet Fanny Adams as this horrible man comes out with.
[Aus]N. Pulliam I Travelled a Lonely Land (1957) 139: Practical jokers, sweet Fanny Adams!
[Aus]J. Hibberd White with Wire Wheels (1973) 215: Sweet Fanny Adams.