Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drunks

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Etymology of the Day: Sweater

Posted by on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 12:13 PM

"The word 'sweater' is disgusting!" Dom declared out of the blue a few minutes ago. (We've got a high proportion of out-of-the-blue declarers here at The Stranger.) "Think about it—a word for something you wrap around your body to make you sweat."

That seemed improbably literal. There are so many false cognates in English etymology (example: "amendable" from Latin minare "to drive cattle with shouts" and "amenity" from Latin amoenitatem "delightfulness, pleasantness"). "Sweater" must have come from some Proto-Germanic or Old Saxon word for warmth. Or something.

But no. Ladies and gentlemen, the etymology of "sweater":

"woolen vest or jersey, originally worn in rowing," 1882, from earlier sweaters "clothing worn to produce sweating and reduce weight" (1828), from sweat (v.).

Turns out that Dom is correct. "Sweater" is kind of gross.


Comments (20) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Fnarf 1
You could always go for "pompous Anglophile" and call them "jumpers".
Posted by Fnarf on December 19, 2013 at 12:17 PM · Report this
stirwise 2
I would if "jumper" didn't already have a perfectly cromulent american meaning.…
Posted by stirwise on December 19, 2013 at 12:36 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 3
I prefer "torso cozy."
Posted by MacCrocodile on December 19, 2013 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Eric F 4
Or French, "un pull," short for "pull-over," pronounced, gloriously, "pool-oh-VEHR."
Posted by Eric F on December 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
I guess this makes both "sweatshirt" and "sweatpants" double or triple gross.
Posted by LuisitaPhD on December 19, 2013 at 12:51 PM · Report this
stirwise 6
@4 - But then what do the French call a cardigan sweater? Un pull only works if it's actually a pullover.

Also, @5: at least in those one is expected to exercise. Or be a slob. Either way, the gross is built-in already.
Posted by stirwise on December 19, 2013 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Anne18 7
I had to run after the bus this morning.

I am wearing a sweater (and, at the time, 2 coat-layers).

I believe this.
Posted by Anne18 on December 19, 2013 at 1:42 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 8

Why not just call it a cardigan? Is there a type of cardigan that isn't a sweater?
Posted by keshmeshi on December 19, 2013 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 9
Dom does not like a "sweater" unless it's a man he is making sweat. THEN he'll like a sweater.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on December 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM · Report this
stirwise 10
@8: Yeah, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Or the city in Wales both the sweater and the dog refer to.
More to the point, I was addressing the suggestion that we refer to sweaters using French terms that don't include the word "sweater." Cardigan is a term that is short for "cardigan sweater," so the speaker and listener will likely think "sweater" even without hearing it.
Posted by stirwise on December 19, 2013 at 2:04 PM · Report this
Chefgirl 11
My Australian cousins were a little thrown when I referred to an outfit as a "sweatsuit". They call those, "trackers".
Posted by Chefgirl on December 19, 2013 at 2:04 PM · Report this
The French call a cardigan "un gilet".
Posted by MizzTigger on December 19, 2013 at 2:13 PM · Report this
Pope Urbane 13
Hair shirt. It's a hair shirt.
Posted by Pope Urbane on December 19, 2013 at 2:57 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 14
Or we could go with the idea that sweat isn't actually gross. It's a body fluid, yes, but the idea that body fluids, which are essential for life are gross is ridiculous. They may be unpleasant in certain manifestations but all you Victorian ladies who faint at any reference to our coproreal manifestation really need to get a grip.
Posted by thatsnotright on December 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Fnarf 15
@14, yeah, you're the reason I hate riding the 358.
Posted by Fnarf on December 19, 2013 at 4:43 PM · Report this
merry 16
Un garment de perspirant

Posted by merry on December 19, 2013 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 17
Aw, the 358. You're making homesick or something.
Posted by Matt from Denver on December 19, 2013 at 6:37 PM · Report this
@11, its "trackies" or if related to the pants, "trackie dacks."
Frequently worn with uggies or moccies.
Posted by ozchick on December 19, 2013 at 7:36 PM · Report this
Eric F 19
In England you can wear a shell-suit, but that's poly/nylon, not terrycloth. I don't know what they call sweatsuits.
Posted by Eric F on December 19, 2013 at 7:58 PM · Report this
@4 its pullover in German as well.
Posted by high and bi on December 20, 2013 at 9:39 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy