Let's talk about hairstyles for a minute.

In particular, that section of hair that hangs down over, or sweeps across, the forehead.

Here in Australia and I believe in England too, this is called a fringe.

Much like the old-time "Surrey with the fringe on top", it's the bit that hangs down. (it's an old song, google it)
The fringing on shirts, skirts, Indian clothing, is the stringy bits that hang. Fringes.

(The ring of hair surrounding a bald head is also a fringe of hair)

In America however, this section of hair is called bangs.
This puzzles me.
A bang is a loud noise.
Well it is in my world anyway.

When, where, how, did the name bangs come from?


  1. I have wondered that for years, and so far google has failed to give me a proper reason.

  2. yes it is an ODD word!!!!!

  3. Not one I had ever thought about, but you are right. An odd one.

  4. no-one; so google is not quite the know-it-all we think it is...

    peskypixies; it just doesn't make sense to us down under.

    EC; I'm hoping an American or two might help us out here.

  5. This comment is from Cellobella;
    Tried to comment on your blog but it didn't seem to work!
    I looked up the etymology and it seems the term comes from 'bangtail' which is the term used to describe a horses tail cut bluntly across the bottom. The 'bang' referring to the quick cut.
    Like ponytail it was picked up and used to describe a woman's hair.

    Thanks for that Cello.

  6. I consulted my ever reliable Collins English Dictionary and BANG is a fringe or section of hair cut straight across the forehead or to cut in such a style or to dock a tail of a horse. A BANGTAIL is a horse's tail cut straight across but not through the bone (OUCH!). I hope this clears it up for you :-).

  7. I have to say that Americans talking about their "bangs" still makes me snigger. My brothers were always boasting about thei (quite different) bangs.

    I looked at my Shorter Oxford and it said under Noun: "(bangs) North American a fringe of hair cut straight across the forehead. [from a use of the adverb bang to mean ‘abruptly’] The adverb "bang" had used to convey the suddenness of an action: the minute something becomes obsolete, bang, it's gone

    No mention of horses there.

  8. Well, if a bang is a loud noise, then why do you call sausages bangers--or is that only the English?

  9. That's English, their National Dish: Bangers and mash. There are no rings of hair around the bald head in lattesville. Yes well I'm sorry for any man in his 20-30s who becomes a nude nut, but shaving the entire head just to sit outside a cafe is tragic. The inner city is full of these dopes. But what can they do, that's the RH dictum: men will always do what women want, to get what they want from women.

    Bangs are strips of hair hanging down each side of the face, in front of the ears. That's what I've always understood. Rabbis do it.
    Anyway if you want to be sure ask our fashion consultant, Big Woman Jahteh!

  10. I have understood bangs to be long curls at the side of the bead.

  11. Windsmoke; your dictionary matches what Cellobella said in the comment above yours.

    Marie; many dictionaries say that with no explanation as to WHY it is called thus.

    Snowbrush; sausages are called bangers because in years past sausages were fattier than they are now and frying sausages caused the bubbles of fat to heat up and explode with quite loud bangs.

    R.H. Those strips of hair are also called bangs? I may consult the oracle JahTeh on this.

    Andrew: Long curls at the side of the head...Do you mean the ones that R.H. mentioned on the Rabbis?

  12. Well darlings since deciding to write my memoirs my subconscious is on the go all the time (I can't even watch TV). I'm now informed by it that "bangs" are clumps of hair hanging down across the forehead (or sides of the face) they are NOT a fringe.
    I am a fringe -on the edge of society, which suits me very well, or I would not be what I am.

    I am Great.

    Bahnisch is a worm.

  13. Good question River (you'll tell that I haven't read the comments above me - still too tired and frazzled). The same goes for 'why do they call them apartments when they're all stuck together?' :P

  14. when the lovely Naomi married some bum called trevor she floated into the church on the arm of her father who was wearing a black suit, which is the only one he has, having bought it for his brother's funeral months earlier. He was also wearing a black tie and I thought he could have done something about that. Anyway she had her hair up, with bangs hanging at the sides, which I thought was very St Albans. And I told her so. It looked coy, that's what I told her, we lower orders should never try things like that.

  15. Hi River,

    I once made an American guy choke with laughter when I said "I'm going to cook some faggots". If you didn't know - faggots in the UK are big spicy meatballs.

    Must admit - I've never heard the term "bangs".

    Americans are odd aren't they?




  16. While Rabbis may have them, I recall young girls also having them, perhaps hanging from under a bonnet.

  17. Yes indeed. And they were popular in Jane Austen's time as curly strips hanging over the forehead.

  18. Gawd just had 3 weeks with an American and have been held solely responsible for the anomalies in the English language from our use of 'ou' in words like 'colour' through to the 're' suffix in 'Theatre' and that from someone who calls a fringe a bang, a tap a faucet, a trunk a boot and a lift an elevator . . the nerve.

  19. I'm very glad Australia stuck with Oxford English, I would never take on the American alterations. Language should change gradually; the Americans took an axe to it.

    And what good has it done them?


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