is "dirty blonde" depreciative?

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Mon Mar 26 13:58:56 UTC 2012

On 3/25/12 12:01 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
> Date:    Sat, 24 Mar 2012 14:12:04 -1000
> From:    Geoffrey Nunberg<nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU>
> Subject: is "dirty blonde" depreciative?
>  From the OED:
> dirty blonde adj. and n. orig. U.S. (mildly depreciative)  (a) adj.(of the hair) dark blonde; blonde tinged with a darker colour;  (b) n.a person with hair of this colour.
> When I was growing up, the term referred simply to a hair color, with no implication of disapproval.
> Geoff


This is how my hair was described as it darkened as I aged.

(People laugh when I take umbrage at blonde jokes because although I
think of myself as a blonde because that's what it was when I was
younger, my hair is now more brown.)

I'm surprised that you remember the lack of disapproval. I would expect
that for some "older" folks (perhaps my parents' or grandparents') just
because of the term "dirty."

Or the "depreciative" aspect may be from marking the color as not a
"true" blonde. (See the parenthetical above.)

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list