"pluche" not in the OED

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 22 23:28:33 UTC 2010

pluche 1 --> under plush A. n. 1.a. [spelling variant]
pluche 2 --> 1815 (possibly earlier with other editions)
pluche 3 == small sprigs of herbs/greens
torsade 1872 --> 1819
toque n. 1.b. 1835 --> 1819
ruche n. 1827 --> 1819
corsage 3.a. 1843 --> 1819
redingote 2. 1823 --> 1819
levantine 2. 1831 --> 1819

[Note that my search was neither deep nor exhaustive--I simply grabbed
what was on the page or in the vicinity and checked for dates.
Fashion/textile terms in the OED clearly need someone to take a closer
look. Same for culinary terms, especially antedating early French
derivatives and getting new terminology of contemporary cooking. I did
not research "pluche" very deep either--just skimmed the first couple of
cites within the appropriate date range. There are over 5000 hits for
the period, so I was not going to do all of them, with most being
references to Pluche.]

No regular dictionaries under OneLook have /any/ definitions for "pluche".

In (1), is "pluche" just an alternate word for "velour"? In Russian, a
cognate "pliushevyi" refers usually to stuffed toys made with a
short-pile (close-napped) cover--not quite velvet, but just as soft and
plushy, if a bit thicker. Compare the OED cite for velour 2.a.

> 1858    P. L. Simmonds Dict. Trade Products,   Velours, a kind of
> velvet or plush for furniture, carpets, etc. manufactured in Prussia,
> partly of linen and partly of double cotton warps with mohair yarn weft.

OED has a separate entry for "velure"--should these (velour and velure)
not be joined?

By the same token, this meaning of "pluche" is simply a variant spelling
of "plush A. n. 1.a." and may well belong under that entry. "Plusche" is
already there. The only problem is that OED defines "plush" as fabric
"with a long soft nap"--perhaps I am wrong about velour (short nap).

I was somewhat confused by the second example--although there is a
"velvet" sauce and a velouté [sauce--closely related to "velour"], and
it is unclear if this is an example of one of these. Looking for an
explanation, I came across Patricia Wells's Paris Cookbook site. It has
a glossary (both Word and PDF, but no longer HTML).

> Pluche: small sprig of herbs or plants, generally used for garnish.

Epicurious.com Food Glossary and French Glossary also give the same


Clearly, this is /not/ a sauce, so what is a tarragon pluche sauce??

There is a third meaning albeit not really in English. This one is from
the Mennonite Low German [On-line] Dictionary (other German dictionaries
appear to have the entry as well, although I only checked a couple)

> pluche - old rags

I'd be curious if this is closely related in origin--old rags can be
unpleasant to the touch, but they can also be very soft.


PS: Joel's cite from The Ladies Monthly Museum is in GB:


a couple more citations, which are severely hampered by the presence of
Abbe Noel Antoine Pluche (also Le Pluche and La Pluche and Abee Pluche).

La Belle Assemblée; For April 1819
Fashions, for May 1819. General Observations on Fashions and Dress. p.
184/1 [GB p. 186]
> Round hats for the carriage, of a moderate and becoming size, are also
> much admired ; they are of /plûche de soie/, or /gros de Naples/, with
> velvet spots; they are worn extended at the brim, and are surmounted
> by a plume of ostrich feathers. The /cornette/ bonnet of white satin
> also forms a favourite article for carriage costume ; it is trimmed at
> the edge with the improved silk shag trimming, or marabout /plûche de
> soie/, and is ornamented with feathers.
[italics in original]

Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions, Manufactures &c. January 1819
French Female Fashions. [letter dated Dec 20.] p. 56
> Black velvet, beaver, //pluche/, /and satin are all in favour for
> /chapeaux./
> ...
> Beaver hats are in general worn without feathers; they are lined with
> white or coloured satin, or sometimes with silk //pluche/. /The crowns
> are ornamented with three narrow bands of velvet, placed at some
> distance from each other, and fastened at the left side either by
> small metal buckles, or else three steel buckles: if the lining be
> //pluche/, /it sometimes turns up an inch or two round the edge of the
> brim.
> ...
> Silk //pluche/ /hats are ornamented sometimes with ostrich, sometimes
> with down, feathers; []

[Also note that this entry antedates "torsade" by half a century.]
February 1819
London Fashions. p. 113/1 [followed by color plates after p. 114]
> The head-dress is a French walking hat, in shape something similar to
> a gentleman's: it is composed of plain straw-coloured silk //pluche/,
> /and lined with slate-coloured satin; [...] The edge of the brim is
> richly ornamented with slate-coloured satin, twisted to form what the
> French call a /torsade/.

On the same page there is also a reference to "toque". Although OED has
toque 1.b. back to 1817, there is a quote from 1835 that is nearly
identical to this one (but /not/ identical):
> The head-dress is a low white satin //toque/, /ornamented in front
> with white roses, which are surmounted by a plume of ostrich feathers:
> it is tied under the chirt by a row of pearls, finished by pearl tassels.

Lest we think that pluche was in use only for head-dress:

p. 114/2
> One of the prettiest of these gowns was an open robe, of a dark
> sea-green colour; the bottom of the skirt was vandyked with bright
> green silk /pluche/ ; the points of the Vandykes were turned upward,
> and each of them was finished by a very narrow puffing of gauze, to
> correspond in colour with the /pluche/. [...] it was confined at the
> bottom by a girdle, or rather, we should say, a half-girdle, composed
> of /pluche/, which was tacked on at each side close to the hip, and
> fastened with three small silk buttons in the middle of the back,
> [...] the shoulder aud the bottom of the sleeve were ornamented with
> pointed /pluche/, and the collar was lined with the same material.
> This is an elegant and ladylike morning dress./
> /

A bit further, significant antedating for ruche and corsage 3.a. and,
again, toque.

p. 115
> Full dress is a good deal made in white satin. ... We have seen
> another, which is also striking and tasteful: it is white satin,
> finished with a deep flounce of blond lace, which is headed by a
> /ruche/ of white and ruby-coloured net, fancifully intermingled. A
> ruby-coloured velvet /corsage/ is put on over the satin one: only a
> little of the front of the latter is seen; the former meets just in
> front, where it is fastened by a pearl clasp of the shape of a heart;
> the fronts are sloped on each side, and it is trimmed round the bust
> with narrow blond lace, which stands up. ... We have seen a number of
> //toques/, /turbans, and dress caps, which have been prepared against
> the termination of the mourning.

On the next page, more new terms antedated: redingote 2. and levantine 2.

French Female Fashions [letter dated Jan. 20]. p. 116/1
> Our promenade dresses are now mostly composed of levantiue. [...]
> Round dresses and //redingotes/ /of levantine, and pelisses of white
> satin, are universally adopted by all tonish //élégantes/./

PPS: OK, it /is/ a veloute, of sorts...

I found an earlier edition of the cookbook (1815) in GB and looked up
the actual recipe (the text is substantially the same).


It's a bit complicated and requires jumping between different sauces,
but, essentially, veloute and pluche start out with the same base (sauce
tornee) with consomme added, but veloute is reduced then has cream added
as well, while pluche uses vinegar-blanched tarragon as the main
flavoring agent and no cream. Of course, professional chefs would scorn
me for suggesting that it's a veloute.

On 12/22/2010 12:08 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> "Pluche" in neither of the two following senses is in the OED. And
> this is in a region of the alphabet that the OED has ploughed through
> recently. (Forgive the obscure pun.)
> 1) "Satin pluche, and velvet are the materials most in request for
> hats. Plain pluche ... Fancy pluche ..."
> Page 290. _The Ladies's Monthly Museum_. Article "Costumes
> Parisiennes". Vol. VI. Improved Series. London, 1817.
> 2) "Tarragon Sauce, or Pluche. ... In other pluches, tarragon must
> always prevail. You may make pluches of parsley [etc.]"
> Page 15. _The French Cook_. Louis Eustache Ude. 10th ed. London, 1829.
> Joel

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