I walked into a department store a few days ago and asked the sales clerk if she could direct me to the department that sold dungarees. A wrinkle appeared on her forehead and she said, “Dungar what?”
Okay, that didn’t really happen. I wrote that as an excuse to use the word “wrinkle” for today’s one-word prompt.
But seriously, folks, are you familiar with dungarees? No, it’s not the native language of the people who live in the country of Dungar.
When I was a kid I wore blue jeans at home (we weren’t allowed to wear jeans at school), and when the knees in the jeans became threadbare, my mom would always say, “Time to get you a new pair of dungarees.”
Back then, dungarees referred to pants and overalls. The word is a relic of the British colonial presence in India. “Dungri” is the name of a particular type of thick, durable cotton cloth exported from India to England in the 18th century. It was originally used to make sails and tents. Eventually “dungri” cloth was used to make work clothes. Somewhere along the way, an extra syllable was added to its name, and became “dungarees.”
These days, dungarees is simply an antiquated term for what we call “jeans,” casual trousers made of denim, most often blue in color.
The term “jeans” is allegedly an altered form of the name “Genoa,” the Italian city that was once an important source of the cloth. Similarly, “denim” is a mutation of “serge de Nimes,” referring to Nimes, France, also an early source of the fabric.
The more you know….