Purple Nebula (gwoman) wrote in word_ancestry,
Purple Nebula
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towhead

towhead, n. [to-hed, -hĕd]
-First appearing in 1830, towhead is a colloquial name for a person - especially a child - with light blond hair. This is derived from the process of tow-spinning in which farmers separated the long, thin fibers that were usable in flax from the coarser, lighter fiber that were not as useful. Tow is a noun meaning 'coarse, broken fibers of hemp, flax, etc...' and has been in use with this spelling since Middle English, probably before 1387. It likely comes from Old English tow 'spinning' and may be cognate with Old Norse to 'unworked fiber, tuft of wool for spinning' and Gothic taui 'work, doing.'
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