Sideburns, Locks and Mutton Chops

August 4, 2011

I was in work last week and I noticed that the barbers would alternately use the term "sideburns" and "locks" when speaking to a customer and it got me thinking; there are many terms for those pieces of hair that grow down the side of a gent's face but what is the correct term and where did it come from?
I used my Google-Fu and found out that originally the word "Burnsides" was used, taken from the name of Sir Ambrose Everett Burnside who was a Civil War General in the 19th century. He was also a well known politician who was noted for his considerably hairy facial sides and smooth chin! Over time the term got switched around to the more common term "sideburns" that we know and use today.
In Judaism the curls men wear are called "sidelocks (or payots)" which is most likely where we get the abbreviation "locks". The length, thickness and presentation of a man's payots are determined by his sect. Yemenite Jews will wear them long, sometimes down to their forearm, while the Gur tuck them under a yarmulke.
As for the term "Mutton Chops"... well that comes from the fact that the mutton-chop style sideburn looks like the aforementioned cut of meat, made out of hair, and stuck on either side of one's face, much like the lovely Wolverine in the picture above.

So call them what you will; grow them bushy, groom them close, or see how many meat products you can fashion out of hair! Whichever way you choose to style it, it seems that cheek hair is just as versatile as the hair on your head!
- BE


Post a Comment