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The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Word To Use Today: periwig.

If only there could be a fashion for periwigs again:

Okay, admittedly the guy in the picture is a pharaoh, and the chances are I'm never going to be one of those. In fact I very much doubt if I'll ever even be married to a pharaoh. But you don't necessarily need to be a monarch to wear a periwig:

I mean, how cool is that. If I had one of those I could drop my hair off at the hairdressers and then go off and do something useful,  instead of sitting in front of a mirror for hours pretending to be interested in soap operas.

I hate to admit that periwigs do have some disadvantages. I mean, you can never be sure what you're importing when you put another person's hair on your head. Nits would be bad enough; and the diarist Samuel Pepys had even worse things to worry about:

"3rd September 1665: Up, and put on my coloured silk suit, very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but darst not wear it because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it."

As it happened the fashion for periwigs survived the plague, though periwigs changed shape, colour (because they began to be covered in powder*) and material (from human to horse hair).

The Five Orders of Perriwigs as they were Worn at the Late Coronation Measured Architectonically, William Hogarth.

Okay, periwigs are ridiculous. But I still really want one. My very own periwig.

Given the weather we've been having here, preferably a waterproof one, please.

Word To Use Today: periwig. This word comes from the French perruque, from the Italian perrucca. No one knows where it came from before that.

*That led to another disadvantage: mice in your periwig eating the starch in the powder.


  1. I've always been a wee bit envious of the long, thick, curly periwigs that were once worn by men. I think they were wasted on them! :)

    Rather than periwigs, I would like to see hats make a big comeback.
    Hats for everyday use and for special occasions, for both men and women.
    Maybe I could be a milliner!

  2. Hats are wonderful and I wear them loads - even when working up here in my garret when it's very cold. Do I look eccentric? Yep. But then I tell myself that eccentricity is practically a duty for a writer.


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