OT:Where did the term "polka dots" come from?
- Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2004 04:33:46 -0500
Where did the term "polka dots" come from?
To hunt down the mysterious origins of the "polka
dots," we hit all the usual suspects: The Word
Detective, The Straight Dope, and the intriguing
trivia resource Mindless Crap. They all told us the
same thing -- follow the polka.
In the 19th century, polka dancing enjoyed an immense
popularity that lasted over 50 years. Europe and
America went crazy for the exciting new dance that
featured actual physical contact between the opposite
sexes. Polka rags were all the rage, and the "Rail
Splitter Polka" was composed for President Lincoln's
The result? Folks cashed in. There were polka hats,
polka socks, polka curtains, and polka dots. Which
isn't to say that the aforementioned hats, socks, and
curtains were covered in dots. It was just a fun,
popular word to affix to a product. The dots just
managed to outlive the polka fad.
As for the word "polka" itself, a Yahoo! Reference
entry suggests that it might come from the Polish for
"Polish woman." Others suggest that it comes from the
Czech word "pulka" for half, referring to the short,
lively steps of the dance. Regardless of its
etymology, the dots remain the same.
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