• antimacassar •
æn-ti-mê-kæ-sêr • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A cloth or crocheted doily laid on the top of the back of upholstered chairs and couches or on their arms to protect those areas from the hair tonic worn by men in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Antimacassars are still used in some regions today just for decoration.
Notes: Other than the plural, antimacassars, this Good Word is a solitary remnant of a bygone era. Remember to spell this word with a single C and a double S and you should be OK.
In Play: I've noticed that oily hair tonic seems to be creeping back in style, so a note on an old-fashioned way to defend our furniture against it might not be out of order: "Malcolm has moved back to a slicked-down hair style, so mama's crocheting antimacassars for the living room couch and armchairs." Today, antimacassars are often made of the same material as the upholstery while disposable paper antimacassars are sometimes used in the cabins of aircraft.
Word History: Today's Good Word is a combination of anti- "against" + Macassar, the trade name of an oily hair tonic produced by Rowland and Son in 19th-century England. Macassar was an English attempt at Mangkasara, the name of a region of Celebes, one of the islands making up the Indonesian archipelago, today known as Sulawesi. The hair oil purportedly originated from a plant growing in that region.