Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Word Of The Week


A quick browse through our French tv guide in any given week will point up many films referred to as péplums. These are movies like Gladiator, Ben Hur, Spartacus, King of Kings, or one of the many Cleopatra films. What do they have in common? They are all epic stories set in antiquity, usually Greek or Roman, and often in biblical times.

The word péplum, in fact, originates from the greek peplon and the latin peplum, meaning tunic. It's oldest meaning is for a woman's sleeveless garment, attached at the shoulder. Think "toga."

These days, péplum is the French word for a style of epic movie set in ancient Greek or Roman times. Let the chariot races begin!


  1. Now there's a false cognate for you. To an English-speaking seamstress or fashion hound, a peplum is a short extension or skirt that extends off the bottom of a fitted top. They were popular on women's suits in the 1940s (and no, I've never owned one).
    According to my dictionary, the actual cognate for péplum is peplos, a new word to me. As is péplum. Thanks!

  2. Not to be confused with pablum. But some of these films are. ;-)

  3. Very educational, this blog and its comments...
    I, too, thought that peplum had to do with the extension from a fitted top and thought the words were related. Expecially since there is a common thread (pun intended) between togas and fashion jargon. And the only person I've ever heard use the word peplum was my mother. (Teenager in the 40's)

  4. Well there you go. I didn't even bother to look up peplum in the English dictionary, but since reading these comments, I have. And there it is, the skirt thingy!

    Never heard of that before! Thanks, Chris and Cheryl. Oh, and Ginny, I have heard of pablum... and have probably written some on this very site!


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