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coiffure

Printable Version
Pronunciation: kwah-fyur Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Fancy or elaborate hair style.

Notes: A man who creates coiffures is a coiffeur. A female hairdresser would be properly called a coiffeuse. All these words originated as derivations of coif, but this word retained its sense of a skullcap worn under armor or a nun's veil. Coif, however, has become a verb meaning "to arrange someone's hair in a coiffure", though it is rarely used.

In Play: I'm sure this word arose in the mind of today's contributor as a result of the 2016 presidential election: "Mr. Trump has a signature coiffure that he is known for throughout the world." This word today, however, is most often associated with women's hair: "Barbara Seville arrived at the Snow Ball with a coiffure so elaborate that she had difficulty keeping it all atop her head."

Word History: Today's Good Word originated in French coiffeur "hairdresser", from coiffer "to dress hair". This word, in turn, was built on Old French coife, originally meaning "the inner part of the helmet". This word is based on Old French coife "skull-cap", Modern French coiffe "a kind of hat, a cup", inherited from Late Latin coifa "a cap, hood". This Latin word was also the origin of Italian cuffia "bonnet", Portuguese coifa "hairnet", and Spanish cofia "cap, bonnet". English coif "close-fitting cap" was borrowed from the same word. The Latin word would seem to be of West Germanic origin, perhaps Old High German kupphia or Middle High German kupfe, both of which meant "cap". (William Hupy who, I'm sure, always has enjoyed a lovely head of hair, is due our gratitude for suggesting today's stylishly Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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