Monday, January 8, 2018

Word of the Week - Those Hats...

Last week, my friend Rachel McMillan (of Toronto) asked on Facebook what the different American regions called a certain type of hat. You know, that basic knit hat for the winter. There, she said, they universally called it a toque. Other answers included "winter hat, knit cap, ski hat, beanie, tam, stocking hat..." The list went on and on.

But given that I'm currently knitting one for my husband (the pattern is called, "A Very Plain Hat," LOL), I was thinking of it again and thought it would be fun to feature.

In my area, I grew up hearing them called toboggans. Like the sled. Upon looking it up, I learned that the word dates from 1829, meaning a flat-bottomed sled. Around 100 years later, in the late 1920s, it began being applied (regionally in America) to the knit hats one wore when tobogganing. (I guess that region includes my own...)

Toque, coming from French, is not surprisingly common in Canada. As a word for "a round hat," it dates to the 1500s. It comes from the Spanish word for "a woman's headdress," which may have in turn come from the Arabic word for "shawl."

Beanie dates from the 1940s and might be the funniest of the words--it's from the slang sense of bean, meaning "head." (For some reason, I always think of a beanie as one of the bowl-shaped hats with a little propeller on top. I wonder what TV show I have to thank for that? LOL)

Tam is short for tam-o'-shanter, a type of hat from the 1840s used by Scottish plowmen. The name comes from the hero of Robert Burns poem (Tom of Shanter) of the same name, published in 1790. This type of woolen hat became fashionable for women in the 1880s as well.

So there we go. Whatever we call it, I know many of them have been worn during this awful arctic blast! If you're anything like me, you're pretty excited to see warmer temps in this week's forecast!


  1. I myself hate to wear a hat! It doesn't matter how cold it it is, I still hate to wear one. I remember growing up that I had to wear a hat every Sunday to church. I love bonnets on babies and little girls. My daughter had a ton of them, some of them we still have.

  2. When I think of beanie , I think of the jars we wore in Brownies and in the Girl Scouts we wore Berets.

  3. I thought I could pack away my hats and toboggans when we moved from Virginia to South Carolina. Good thing the box of warm clothing was easy to find. We had 5 inches of snow and I sure was happy to see the items that would keep me warm. :-)