Etymology – How to Get it Right When Defining the Word “Fashion”

Sep 1, 2021 Info

Fashion is a mode of autonomy and self-expression in a certain context and at a certain time, of attire, footwear, fashion, makeup, hair style, body posture, and accessories. On the other hand, the word simply means a particular look generally defined by the fashion industry as what is fashionable. The term is also used for describing particular fashions, designs, or styles. It has no universally accepted meaning.

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A brief search on the web shows us that there are more than twelve million hits on the term “fashion,” making it one of the most popular search terms on the net. The reason for this popularity is not immediately obvious. The reasons range from the obvious to the less obvious–from the fact that fashion is subjective, the idea that it is up to each individual to determine what is fashionable and what is not; to the fact that fashion as an industry is fast-paced, requiring innovative innovations from the time it was established in the nineteenth century to the present day, when changes in technology, society, culture, trends, and expectations drive it. With these factors in mind, it is no surprise that the definition of the word continues to change, from one dictionary to another.

The most commonly used definition in etymology is, “a way of dressing, usually for casual or private occasions, in accordance with prevailing fashions or customs.” One dictionary thus defines the word as “the manner in which things are dressed.” Another adds, “the modes of dress, that is, ways of dressing varying according to custom and fashions.” Yet another adds, “the manner in which things are presented or exhibited for display.” In this latter instance, the definition is most closely related to the noun fashion, since both words describe a way of dressing.