Fashionable terms

Seersucker surface

This linen or cotton cloth with alternate stripes of plain and crinkled material was originally only white with light blue, gray, or tan. It got its name from the British colonial version of the Hindi word shirshaker.

This crimped striped fabric was exported from India for summer suits in the 18th century and literally meant "milk and sugar."

Why? The name supposedly alluded to the surface of the cloth, which had alternate smooth and puckered stripes, producing the effect of the flat surface of milk and the bumpy surface of sugar. Even the English name seersucker alludes to the texture of the fabric - as in sheer and puckered.

Alluring raptors

Today's advertising industry knows all about this word meaning to charm and entice, but "allure" came from the sport of falconry.

It was the European gentry who experimented with lures, those devices made from a cluster of feathers to which food could be attached. Lures, from the French word aleurrer (to bait) were used by hunters to entice a hawk in training to return to its owner. Hence, anything tempting or enticing came to be alluring.

SOURCES: 'The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins,' by Robert Hendrickson; 'Why You Say It,' by Webb Garrison; The World Book Dictionary; 'Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable,' by Ivor H. Evans.

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