Word of the Week (154): REBOZO (probability 14287), by David Sutton

Today let us talk scarfs (or, if you prefer, scarves).

A little digression: SCARF is one of the three root words ending in -ARF that have alternative plurals in -ARFS and -ARVES, the others being DWARF and WHARF. But be careful with compounds: HEADSCARF gives only HEADSCARVES, not HEADSCARFS*; SEMIDWARF (referring to a plant that is half dwarf) gives SEMIDWARFS or SEMIDWARVES; SUBDWARF, however, (referring to a star smaller than a dwarf star), gives only SUBDWARFS, not SUBDWARVES*. It's these little inconsistencies in the lexicon that make a Scrabbler's life interesting, don't you think? Or maybe not.

Where was I? Ah yes, a REBOZO (which has a fairly obvious anagram) is a long scarf covering the head and shoulders, worn by women in Latin America. It derives from the Spanish rebozar, to muffle.

Other exotic scarfs include the TAPALO, another scarf worn in Latin American countries, the PATKA, a scarf worn as a head-covering by Sikh men in place of a turban, the NUBIA, a woman's soft fleecy scarf for the head and neck, deriving from the Latin nubes, cloud, and the PAGRI, worn in India, which can be a turban or a light scarf worn round a hat to keep out the sun. PAGRI has no fewer than six alternative spellings, and count yourself very smart if you know them all: they are PUGAREE, PUGGAREE, PUGGERY, PUGGREE, PUGGRY and PUGREE.

And let us not forget the BABUSHKA, from a Russian word meaning grandmother but which can also be a triangular headscarf tied under the chin, presumably because this is or was the fashion with Russian grandmothers.

To finish with a quick test: and the anagram of HEADSCARF is....?


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