Wednesday, September 26, 2012

word of the day: tonsure

The word of the day is tonsure:

Etymology:  < French tonsure (14th cent. in Godefroy), or < Latin tonsūra a shearing or clipping, < tondēre , tons-um
1. gen. The action or process of clipping the hair or shaving the head; the state of being shorn. 
2.a. spec. The shaving of the head or part of it as a religious practice or rite, esp. as a preparation to entering the priesthood or a monastic order.
b. The part of a priest's or monk's head left bare by shaving the hair.
3. The clipping  (a) of coin;  (b) of shrubs or hedges. Obs. rare. (OED)

"Much of the human hair used in wigmaking and weave-styling grew on Indian heads - a significant amount of it, Neufeld's book reveals, coming from a temple in the town of Tirupati, where every year two million people are ritually tonsured."

 - Rebecca Mead, "Field notes: Hair today", 24 September 2012 The New Yorker

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