• polka-dot •
po(l)-kê-daht • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Related to a pattern of carefully aligned rows of round dots, usually on fabrics.
Notes: This is the adjective for the noun phrase polka dot, referring to one such dot. Some dictionaries incorrectly list the noun as noun and adjectives, but polka-dot has only one accent, so it is a single word. It is not noun phrase that has accents on both nouns. In fact, the spelling polkadot appears 19 million times on the internet. Polka-dotted, a grammatically legitimate adjective, appears only 400,000 times on the internet according to Google.
In Play: Perhaps the most famous use of this word was in the 1960 song "Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini" written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and sung by Brian Hyland. 1960 was a year when bikinis were daring in the US. This word's meaning does not loan itself to metaphor: "Maude Lynn Dresser came to the picnic in a smashing new polka-dot dress."
Word History: The polka-dot style was named after the polka dance during a period known for its "polkamania" in Europe (1840-1890). The Czech polka mazurka "Polish mazurka" first emerged as European fad during that period. The dance first became the rage in Prague, 1835; the rage reached London in the spring of 1842. Various polka-dot items fashionable at the time were named after the dance, such as the polka jacket, a woman's tight-fitting jacket, and the polka hat. All bore what came to be known as polka dots. The word polka is a Czech word referring to a Polish woman (the feminine for polak). (Our gratitude is now owed Jackie Strauss, a long-time contributor from Philadelphia and promoter of the Tridels, for today's surprising Good Word.)
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