Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Weird Words Wednesday

Oh, me and my alliteration....

Being that it's the three weeks and music is a no-no, I thought it would be fun to have something take its place. Maybe I'll make it a regular feature- that I haven't decided yet.

Snood. Not a weird word, you're thinking. Of course it is! The context that we, Jews, use it in, it turns out, is exactly the opposite of the way in which it was originally used.

We use the word snood as a word for a head covering for a married woman. It's usually a shapeless sort of bag made of material that fits comfortably on one's head. The closest thing I can think of that non-Jews wear are those things that Jamaica guys wear, uh, a Rasta Head Wrap I believe it's called. Unmarried women wearing a similar sort of covering will use, in my experience, the "proper" term for the word, whatever it may be.

It meant: "ribbon for the hair" in Old English and's definition is: The distinctive headband formerly worn by young unmarried women in Scotland and northern England. The origins of the word snood is Old English! Who knew?! I didn't even think it was English! (Shows how much I know, huh?)

So, while Orthodox Jews use it exclusively in the context of married women, the origin is actually in the context of unmarried women.


PS. I'm way behind in commenting on all of your posts and I'm sorry about that. I want to, I really do, I've just been really busy with all other sorts of fun, not-as-fun, and the in-between kind of, stuff. Rest assured, I will get to them all one day!


  1. Old English sounded nothing like the contemporary version; it was essentially Germanic. Making it a close friend of Yiddish.

    Additionally, in those Old English times, unmarried girls were often veiled by age 12+. Ergo, "snood" for the unmarried is not even such a surprise; perhaps the unwed made a point to wear a different hair covering than the wives, in order to advertise their single status.

    1. Yes yes, I know, but that doesn't explain how it's both Yiddish and English. There are, relatively speaking, very few words that are the same in German and English still in use today from back when Old English was still spoken. It's interesting that of the less than 500 words that are spelled exactly the same as their German counterparts, we have the opposite definition of how it's used in both German and English.

      That's an interesting thought idea, but again, doesn't address why the word "snood" became, for us, a word that means the opposite....?

      I don't want to get into a whole debate about this rather silly word- I just found it odd, interesting, and of course, weird :-)

      Thanks for your comment. You provided very interesting explanations for, at least, the connection between the words and I appreciate what you've added to the post. :-)