• bangs •
bængz • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A straight cut of hair across the forehead.
Notes: Although I have heard this word only in the plural throughout my life, the Oxford English Dictionary lists only the singular, offering examples such as this one "The straight dark hair, with its heavy bang across her childish forehead." Why a word referring to hair, a word seldom used in the plural (only by the Pennsyvania Dutch), should have traded over for the plural in the US is a mystery we will not resolve here. However, remember that singular bang is just as good as plural bangs in this case.
In Play: If you like to stand out in a conversation, try something like this sometime: "Did you hear about Hedda Haire? She fell and received a nasty bang just below her bang." You can cite this Good Word as your source on the singular. If you prefer to go with the flow, stick with expressions like this: "I really get a bang out of your new bangs, Hedda; I think they are a bang-up idea."
Word History: Today's Good Word, believe it or not, began in the British army in the middle of the 19th century when the tails of horses were squarely docked as if shot off with a bang from a gun. This tail-styling eventually made its way to the United States, where several bang-tailed horses won races, attracting the attention of hair-stylists. What a great idea! So by the 1920s, slashing the hair in a straight line over the forehead became a rave that has retained much of its momentum until this very day. The First Lady, Michelle Obama, came out with bangs at the second inauguration of her husband. (If you got a bang out of today's Good Word, we owe a word of thanks to Jackie Strauss for suggesting it.)
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