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February 05, 2006

Am I alone in wondering...

where the term toe-head comes from?

I can imagine how it came to be that people wanted to pick each other's brains and get each other's goats. And although I can't say exactly why people dress to the nines and go to hell in a hand-basket, it does not vex me. But toe-head has always weighed on me.

Until today, all I've known is that a toe-head is a blonde -- the really white-haired variety -- little kid. [I'm not 100% on this but I'm fairly sure you'd never call an adult a toe-head.]

Well, let the pasta boil over and the kids cut each other's hair! I've finally unearthed the derivation.

For starters, it's TOW, not TOE. This is a crucial revelation, since it shuts down all the foot-related theories I've heard proffered over the years.

And tow, back in the 14th century, was this flaxen, hemp-like material that textile types spun into yarn. So a tow-head is a kid whose head of tousled, white hair looks like tow.

It's not much, I admit, but it's my little gift for today. Tune in next week when I deconstruct cut the mustard.