More articles by

Mathew T George
Mathew T George


Wardrobe babies


Who ever thought an untidy room would spawn a whole clan of words! Floordrobe was the first portmanteau to be born in that family, a cross between floor and wardrobe. If your clothes are strewn all over the floor, voila, you have a floordrobe. Chairdrobe was the next baby. I have seen quite a few treadmills festooned with clothes. Treadrobe? Or, make it fitrobe, and you can fit in all fitness equipment that got demoted to clothes horses. Oh, I've seen exercycles becoming cycledrobes. So, fitrobe it is.

Interestingly on the #WordsWorth chat, I was asked about the etymology of wardrobe. The roots of the word are in Old French or Old Northern French. Garderobe meant a cell or private chamber where clothes were kept. Clothes have their own family of words and phrases. Sunday best, for example. Or, a revealing one—wardrobe malfunction. Then, there is that word closer to home, calico. The cotton fabric came from Calicut (now Kozhikode). The weaving community in Kozhikode, the Chaliyas, lent their name to the River Chaliyar. Ok, let's get back to wardrobes.

During the last edition of #WordsWorth, I had asked about a famous novel that used the word chiffarobe multiple times. A chiffarobe or chifforobe is a cross between a wardrobe and a chest of drawers. The word itself is a portmanteau of the French word chiffonier and wardrobe. Chiffarobe was popularly used in the southern United States. Ring a bell? That's right—To Kill a Mockingbird.

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Topics : #language | #opinion

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