Hello, summer! And hello to what the ladymags like to call “bikini season.” My new column for the Visual Thesaurus investigates how the bikini got its name (in 1946 France) and why the word has been such a productive contributor to our vocabulary.
Access is restricted to subscribers. Here’s an itsy-bitsy excerpt:
Eventually, “-kini” acquired enough independent meaning that it became detached from the concept of skimpiness. In 1985, swimsuit designer Anne Cole introduced a suit that combined a bikini-style bottom with a relatively demure, hip-length tank top. The company called it the “tankini,” a descriptor that has endured. Or consider the full-coverage Burqini: a portmanteau of “burqa” and “bikini,” it’s the registered trademark for a full-body suit—only the face and hands are revealed—introduced in 2007 by a Lebanese-Australian swimsuit designer to meet the needs of active Muslim women. The Burqini (known generically as the burkini or the veilkini) was popularized by a non-Muslim, the British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, who told reporters she wore the garment to prevent sunburn. Also innocent (and also a trademark): Babi-kini, a U.S. company that makes wee swimsuits for infants and toddlers.
Bonus link #1: My 2008 blog post on bikinis and their -kini kin.
Bonus link #2: Why do men’s magazines love flag bikinis?