Trend Watch

Haberdashery

This old word for a clothing store spiked over the past two weekends


The words haberdasher and haberdashery both saw a greatly increased number of searches over the past two weekends, as a result of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. Much of the proceedings of the film take place in a cabin called Minnie’s Haberdashery. Both words are fairly old specimens: haberdasher means "a person who owns or works in a shop that sells men's clothes" and has been in use in English since the 14th century. Haberdashery, refers to the goods sold by a haberdasher or the haberdasher's shop, and can be found at least as far back as the middle of the 16th century. Haberdasher is thought to have come from the Anglo-French word hapertas (a kind of cloth).

quentin-tarantino-directs-kurt-russell-jennifer-jason-leigh-and-tim-roth-on-the-set-of-the-hateful-eight
Photo: Andrew Cooper, SMPSP / © 2015 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved.

Quentin Tarantino directs Kurt Russel, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tim Roth on the set of The Hateful Eight

These words have both been in consistent use for hundreds of years, found in the writings of Edgar Allen Poe (“You talked of having a haberdashery side to the shop”), Jane Austen (“Ford’s was the principal woolen-draper, linen-draper, and haberdasher’s shop united.”), and President Herbert Hoover (“…for certain individuals, newspapers, associations and institutions officiate as haberdashers in this regard, with a high generosity which guarantees both humility and urbanity.”)

Some of the dictionary’s users may have never heard of this word, and are looking it up to find out what a ​​haberdashery​​ is. Others may be looking to see if there is another meaning of ​​haberdashery​​ with which they were unfamiliar: it has been noted that there is a definite lack of ​​haberdashing​​ in The Hateful Eight's ​​haberdashery​​, with nary a garment for sale to be seen. Perhaps Tarantino was referencing the little-known 19th century sense of the word recorded by slang lexicographers Farmer and Henley, who defined the word ​haberdasher​ as "(humorously) a publican." Or perhaps he simply liked the way the word sounded.



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