A Nectarine is Glabrous, but a Peach is Downy.

Group Portrait of CCC Enrollees

A Nectarine is Glabrous, but a Peach is Downy.

Blast from the Past (83)

There are several words for ‘bald’ in Latin.


Calvus is the word that came down into the daughter Romance languages.


In French, a ‘bat’ is a chauve-souris, a bald mouse. Chauve is a descendant of calvus.


‘Baldness’ in French is calvitie.


Calvo means ‘bald’ in both Spanish and Italian.


Calvus was the common street word for ‘bald.’  Plautus used it.


The word calvus comes from Proto Indo European *kalw-  (“bald”). Cognate with Avestan (kaurva, “bald”), Persian کل (kal, “bald, hairless”), Sanskrit कुल्व (kulva, “bald”).


Another word for ‘bald’ in Latin is glaber.


Glaber means ‘without hair, smooth.’


Glaber is perhaps a more educated word than calvus.


Why would anyone conclude that glaber is the more educated word and calvus the more popular one?


The main reason is that calvus is the word that came down into the Romance languages, which always took the street word rather than the school word.


After all, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Sicilian, Romanian and the rest were all created by the way common people spoke Latin.


The word equus is the refined word for ‘horse’ in Latin.


From equus we get such words as ‘equine’ and ‘equestrian.’


The Latin street word for ‘horse’ was caballus, which had the connotation of, say, ‘nag.’


From caballus we get Spanish caballo, Italian cavallo, French cheval and such words as cavalry, cavalier, chivalrous, chevalier.


Calvus (bald) even came down into German, not a Romance language at all.


‘Bald’ in German is kahl, obviously from Latin calvus.


Another reason for concluding that glaber is the ‘educated’ word for ‘bald’ is that glaber is that the word that is used even today in the sciences and in the library.


Glaber comes from the Proto Indo European *gʰladʰros and is cognate to Proto-Germanic *gladaz and Old Church Slavonic гладъкъ (gladъkъ).


Number Singular Plural
Case \ Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
nominative glaber glabra glabrum glabrī glabrae glabra
genitive glabrī glabrae glabrī glabrōrum glabrārum glabrōrum
dative glabrō glabrae glabrō glabrīs glabrīs glabrīs
accusative glabrum glabram glabrum glabrōs glabrās glabra
ablative glabrō glabrā glabrō glabrīs glabrīs glabrīs
vocative glaber glabra glabrum glabrī glabrae glabra


The German word glatt (smooth) comes from glaber.


I feel as if such words as glide, glassy, glabrous are related to glaber.


Gaius Claudius Glaber was the Roman praetor in 73 BCE. who failed to defeat Spartacus and his fellow slaves on Mt. Vesuvius during the Third Servile War.


It’s a safe bet that Gaius Claudius Glaber was nowhere near as hirsute as this puppet.


In botany and mycology, a glabrous morphological feature is smooth, glossy, having no trichomes (bristles or hair-like structures).


Glabrous features may be an important means of identifying flora species. Glabrous characteristics of leaves, stems, and fruit are commonly used in plant keys.


The term glabrous is only used for features that lack trichomes at all times. When an organ has trichomes that are lost with age, the term used is glabrescent.


Most mammals have some skin areas without natural hair.


On the human body, glabrous skin is external skin that is naturally hairless.


Glabrous skin is found on the ventral portion of the fingers, palmar surfaces of hands, soles of feet, lips,labia minora, and the glans penis.


Recently, the term glabrousness has been somewhat cavalierly applied to human fashions, wherein some participate in culturally motivated hair removal by depilation  or epilation (removal of the entire hair, such as waxing or plucking).


In many Western cultures men currently are encouraged to shave their beards and women are encouraged to remove hair growth on various areas.


Commonly depilated areas for women are the underarms and legs.


Underarm hair removal is sometimes called axillary depilation.


Of course, people who sell depilatory aids spend a lot of money on advertising to promote hair removal practices.


This commercial push has resulted in the Brazilian waxing trend involving the partial or full removal of pubic hair, since thongs worn on Brazilian beaches are so revealing.


What was once kept a personal secret now is discussed more openly, although still in carefully non-explicit language, as advertised in magazines and on television.


In ancient Egypt, depilation was commonly practiced to prevent infestation by lice and other vermin.


Typically, tweezers were used to pluck out individual hairs.


In both Greece and Rome the removal of body and pubic hair may have been practiced among both men and women.


Both men and women were depicted without body or pubic hair on some of the red figure pottery from Greece.


Muslims have believed at various times that adult removal of pubic and axillary hair, as a hygienic measure, is also religiously beneficial.


Baptized Sikhs, on the other hand, are specifically instructed never to cut, shave, or otherwise remove any hair on their bodies. This is a major tenet of their faith.


Trichophilia is hair fetishism.


A merkin is a pubic wig.


I know a woman named Daphne Merkin.  She’s a writer for The New Yorker.


Daphne means ‘bay’ or ‘laurel,’ so Daphne Merkin could mean a pubic hair wig that is made from laurel leaves, so I enjoy seeing Daphne’s byline in my favorite magazine.  She’s a very good writer. I’ve kidded her about her name and she has taken it in good grace.


Merkins were originally worn by prostitutes after shaving their genitalia, and are now used as decorative items, erotic devices, or in films, by both men and women. This is a merkin worn at Burning Man.


The Oxford English dictionary says that the word ‘merkin’ was first used in 1617.


The word merkin came from a term for the “female pudenda,” apparently a variant of malkin in its sense of “mop.”


The meaning “artificial vagina or ‘counterfeit hair for a woman’s privy parts’ ” is attested from 1610s.


The custom of wearing a merkin dates from mid fifteenth century, and it was associated with prostitutes, and was to disguise a want of pubic hair, shaved off either to exterminate body lice or evidence of venereal disease.


This put a strange Whim in his Head; which was, to get the hairy circle of a Merkin …. This he dry’d well, and comb’d out, and then return’d to the Cardinall, telling him, he had brought St. Peter’s Beard.      A Complete History of the Lives and Robberies of the most notorious Highwaymen 1714   Alexander Smith


In Hollywood,  merkins can be worn by actors to avoid inadvertent exposure of the genitalia during nude or semi-nude scenes.


If a merkin were not worn, it would be necessary to restrict the shot to exclude the genital area.


With the merkin in place, brief flashes of the crotch can be used if necessary.


The presence of the merkin protects the actor from inadvertently performing “full-frontal” nudity. Some contracts specifically require that nipples and genitals be covered in some way — which can help ensure that the film achieves a less restrictive MPAA rating.


A merkin may also be used if the actor has less pubic hair than required, such as the nude dancing extras in The Bank Job or Amy Landecker in A Serious Man. In a nude sunbathing scene, her bikini wax was not common for the period (1967) when the film is set).


For the same reason (having less pubic hair than required) female slaves in Spartacus: Blood and Sand wore merkins.


Lucy Lawless was fitted for a merkin for Spartacus, but did not actually use it.


In an interview for Allure, Kate Winslet related how she refused to wear a merkin in The Reader.


Let me tell you, The Reader was not glamorous for me in terms of body-hair maintenance. I had to grow it in, because you can’t have a landing strip in 1950, you know? And then because of years of waxing, as all of us girls know, it doesn’t come back quite the way it used to. They even made me a merkin because they were so concerned that I might not be able to grow enough. I said, ‘Guys, I am going to have to draw the line at a pubic wig, but you can shoot my own snatch up close and personal.


At the São Paulo Fashion Week in 2010, design firm Neon dressed a nude model in transparent plastic. According to the designer, the model wore a pubic wig to make her appear more natural.


In the director’s audio commentary of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, director David Fincher discussed how a merkin was utilized for actress Rooney Mars, after she suggested to him that the character she portrayed in the movie was a natural red head in the book and actually dyed her hair black.


Consequently, the merkin Rooney Mara wore for the film was made in the color red.


The term merkin has been used in an obscene sense to refer to the vulva.


Merkins R Us:  In the UK, the term merkin has also been in common usage as a jocular term for an American since the 1960s.

Motor Car-Cadillac

Tea Party members call themselves a merkin.  ”Ah’m Amerkin.”


The Oxford English Dictionary reports that the term merkin has become common Internet slang for Americans or American English.

dsc00450.jpg Motor car 1931 V16 Cadillac

The popular saltwater fly fishing lure, used primarily in targeting bonefish, Del Brown’s Merkin, is named after the artificial hairpiece.   Bonefish?


The Merkin fly pattern represents a crab, which refers to the merkin’s historical use for pubic lice (crabs).

Woodrow Wilson Britain Visit

Del’s Merkin is tied with a disc of fuzzy yarn, imitating the crab’s shell, but also reminiscent of the fly’s namesake.


In Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel Lolita, Humbert Humbert confesses to the reader,  ”Although I told myself I was looking merely for a soothing presence, a glorified pot-au-feu, an animated merkin, what really attracted me to Valeria was the imitation she gave of a little girl.”


In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 Dr. Strangelove,  the President of the United States, played by Peter Sellers, is named Merkin Muffley.


Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of American progressive metal band Tool, owns an Arizona grape vineyard by the name of Merkin Vineyards.


“The pain, disruption and distress, that the Sun inflicted by falsely claiming that I cheated on my girlfriend, in the context of such awesome corruption, is a pale liver-spot on the back of Murdoch’s glabrous claw.”          Russell Brand


“The Cyclops had a glabrous eyeball, glabrous as a piece of porcelain.”             Sam Andrew


She shaved religiously from an early age so that her vulva was perfectly glabrous both before and after she went through puberty.


Glabrous skin on the palmar aspect of the hands and the plantar aspect of the feet has special attributes.


These attributes define the skin on the palm, fingers, and sole as functionally and aesthetically different from skin on other parts of the body.


When there is a glabrous skin defect, it should be replaced with similar skin to restore function and aesthetics.


An author/physician reports his 12-year experience with the technique of glabrous dermal grafting for the reconstruction of palmar and plantar skin defects.


From 1992 to 2004, 13 patients with 14 defects underwent glabrous dermal grafting of either palmar or plantar defects.


Defects included nine hand and five foot defects.


Causes included nine acute burns, one secondary burn reconstruction, two delayed reconstructions of traumatic injuries, one congenital nevus, and one malignant melanoma.


Donor sites included 12 glabrous dermal grafts from the foot and two from the hand.


All glabrous dermal grafts demonstrated complete epithelialization and no incidence of complete loss.


Glabrous dermal grafting of palmar and plantar defects is the ideal way of reconstructing glabrous skin to restore both function and aesthetics and minimize donor-site morbidity.


Glabrous (nonhairy) skin surfaces (palms of the hands, soles of the feet, face, and ears) constitute a small percentage of total body surface area but contain specialized vascular structures that facilitate heat loss.


Cooling the glabrous skin surfaces is effective in alleviating heat stress and that the application of local subatmospheric pressure enhances the effect.


A line of shells, white and pink and glabrous in the bright sunlight, marked the line of the high tide.


They brandish weapons more befitting to their glabrous state: candor, transparency, directness and a kind of perceptive wonder.


Glabrous skin has an epidermal layer of about 1.5 mm in thickness and a dermis of about 3 mm. Hairy skin has an epidermal layer of 0.07 mm in thickness and a dermis of about 1-2 mm.


There are four different types of skin:  1. Mucocutaneous: at the junction of the mucous membrane, hairy skin, lips, and tongue.   2.  Mucous membrane: lining the inside of body orifices.    3.  Glabrous: skin without hair.    4.  Hairy: skin with hair.


Some ways to communicate the concept ‘glabrous’ in Spanish:   liso, calvo, llano, sin pelo ni pelusa


In Italian:  glabro, senza peluria, liscio


French:  glabre, lisse


German:   glatt    haarlos    bartlos    unbehaart


Greek:   άτριχος    This is a (not)  and trichos (hair)


Russian:    безволосый; гладкий; голый; лишенный волосяного покрова; неопушенный; оголенный    The second word ‘gladkii’ is from the root word glaber in Latin.


Swedish:    hårlös      glatt


Japanese:      無毛の(植物学, 動物学)  Notice that most of these languages are translating the idea of ‘hairlessness’ or ‘not hair’ as here.


“Two or three notabilities of Rockland, with geoponic eyes, and glabrous, bumpless foreheads.”   Oliver Wendell Holmes  1860


And hast thou shorn the Jabberwock? O glabrous day!


Watch for the new Gillette Glabrous.


Glabrous epidermis of Astrophytum asterias nudum


When she meets him, Elsa has the impression “that his body was more like that of a sea lion” – Finn is entirely glabrous.


The face, after all, includes another glabrous surface of the body, so cooling it with water might help stave off exhaustion.


Stem 2–4° high; racemes slender, panicled, ovaries mostly 5, glabrous; pods flattened, veiny, 6–8-seeded.


A Salix glabra is a glabrous willow.


In German this willow is called a Kahle Weide.  Remember that calvus (bald) in German is kahl.


‘I am bound by precedent,’ said the First Lord, turning a vast glabrous expressionless face from Harte to Sir Joseph. — Patrick O’Brian, HMS Surprise   1973


Adriaan rose, pulling out his limbering glabrous cock, his eyes happy. — Guy Davenport     Tatlin!   1974


Acomoclitism (from Greek κομη = hair, negation prefix α-, and κλιτικος = having a preference, from κλινειν = to lean, κλιτυς = a slope) is the technical term for a preference for hairless genitals. The related adjective describing anyone with this preference is acomoclitic.


Acomous, bald, depilous, glabrate, glabrescent, leiotrichous, tonsured


Everyone’s favorite glabrous, middle-brow, populist television commentator is back for this world cup.


To be glabrous in school can be quite a fashion or a nightmare, depending upon your ability to carry off the bald look.


WEST PALM BEACH:      G-l-a-b-r-o-u-s spelled success for a trio of super spellers from Scripps Research Institute and Duffy’s Sports Grill.


The three-person team of Alicia Brantley, Becky Mercer and Lisa Huertas correctly spelled their 10th and final word this evening to win the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee at the Harriet Himmel Theatre at City Place.


The Scripps/Duffy’s team outlasted runners-up Palm Beach State College and the Gunster law firm with their correct spelling of “glabrous,” an adjective that means having an outer layer of skin that is devoid of hairs or down.


The antithesis of hirsuteness, glabrous is the logophile’s alternative to bald.


By the age of fourteen, Omar stood at a man’s full height and his upper lip bore a dark and lustrous moustache. The other boys, shamed by their glabrous jowls and chins, avoided him.


Glabrous vermicelli


We’ve always regarded slipper lobsters with a modicum of respect because they are hardy and interesting. Slipper lobsters have no pincers and they are welcome in both fish and reef aquariums since they don’t harm anything.  When we saw the glabrous fan lobster, Ibacus bruceii, which immediately reminded us of Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we were truly astounded.


The glabrous fan lobster comes from New South Wales, Australia, and it was originally discovered from specimens that were collected at a depth of nearly 500 feet.


The glabrous skin on Joe’s feet was tough because he often went barefoot.


A talented gardener finds that some of his bean plants have pubescent leaves and others have glabrous leaves. He crosses plants and observes the results.


This species has a bluish-tinged body completely covered in white flecking in the typical species, though one may see completely glabrous green variants without any of the body flecking.

EPSON scanner image

Lips, palms and the soles of the feet are examples of glabrous skin in humans.


Think of the éclat when Sergei, resplendent, clean-shaven, glabrous and glorious, returns from his bearded sojourn!


We resisted the rebarbative redneck’s demands on us and we vouchsafed to buy the glabrous old hillbilly a proper hairpiece.


Britney’s glabrous scabbard in all of its shiny and smooth glory was a thing of beauty and a joy to behold.


It was as glabrous as a baby’s bottom.


He was thrilled about having pancakes with Teri, but, after all, he was as glabrous as a bowling ball.  What chance would he have with her?


He had a glabrous dome and a crooked smile that would have done credit to a crocodile.


Cognates of GLABROUS (without hair) at Indo-European “root” gladh (smooth) are GABRO and GLABELLA.


Other Indo-European “root”s meaning baldness are kelewo and klewo, giving us CALVARIUM, CALVINIST, CALVARY and CALVITIES.


GLABROUS deserves mention at Indo-European “root” gal (bald, naked) along with CALLOW.

Dale Burkhardt 22 Feb 2014

Goliboda is a Polish barber.

Jack Perry 22 Feb 2014

Other “gol” words in Polish are golarnia (barbershop), golec (naked man…poor wretch), and golo (naked, bare, in the open air).


See you next week?

Sam Wesley Freeman 22 Feb 2014


Sam Andrew                              Wesley Freeman