AskDefine | Define wig

The Collaborative Dictionary

Wig \Wig\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Wigged; p. pr. & vb. n. Wigging.] To censure or rebuke; to hold up to reprobation; to scold. [Slang] [1913 Webster]
Wigg \Wigg\, Wig \Wig\, n. [Cf. D. wegge a sort of bread, G. weck, orig., a wedge-shaped loaf or cake. See Wedge.] A kind of raised seedcake. "Wiggs and ale." --Pepys. [1913 Webster]
Wig \Wig\, n. [Abbreviation from periwig.] [1913 Webster]
A covering for the head, consisting of hair interwoven or united by a kind of network, either in imitation of the natural growth, or in abundant and flowing curls, worn to supply a deficiency of natural hair, or for ornament, or according to traditional usage, as a part of an official or professional dress, the latter especially in England by judges and barristers. [1913 Webster]
An old seal; -- so called by fishermen. [1913 Webster] Wig tree. (Bot.) See Smoke tree, under Smoke. [1913 Webster]

Word Net



1 hairpiece covering the head and made of real or synthetic hair
2 British slang for a scolding [syn: wigging] [also: wigging, wigged]

Moby Thesaurus

admonishment, admonition, bawl out, berate, chew out, chiding, hairpiece, jaw, periwig, peruke, rail, rap, rate, reprimand, reproach, reproof, revile, tongue-lash, toupee, upbraid



Shortening of periwig, itself an alteration of French perruque.


  • , /wɪg/, /wIg/
Rhymes with: -ɪɡ



  1. A head of real or synthetic hair worn on the head to disguise baldness; for cultural or religious reasons; for fashion; or by actors to help them resemble the character they are portraying.



  1. To put on a wig; to provide with a wig (especially of an actor etc.).
  2. To upbraid, reprimand.
  3. To become very excitable or emotional; to lose control of one's emotions.

Related terms



  1. wedge

Old English


  • /wi:j/

Etymology 1

*|wig-, from *|weik-. Cognate with Old Frisian wig, Old Saxon wig, Old High German wic, Old Norse víg. The IE root is also the source of Latin vincere, Welsh gwychr, Russian век, Lithuanian veikti.


  1. war, battle
    Oft ic wig seo, frecne feohtan: often I see war, brave men fighting. (AS Riddles)


Related terms

Etymology 2

Variant of weoh.


Derived terms

A wig is a head of hair made from horse-hair, human hair, wool, feathers, buffalo hair, or synthetic, worn on the head for fashion or various other aesthetic and stylistic reasons, including cultural and religious observance. The word wig is short for periwig and first appeared in the English language around 1675.
Some people wear wigs to disguise the fact that they are bald. Actors, on the other hand often wear costume wigs in order to better portray the character they are playing.


Wigs have seemingly been worn throughout history, even on the genitals (see merkin); the ancient Egyptians, for instance, wore them to shield their hairless heads from the sun. Other ancient peoples, including the Assyrians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, also used wigs. Curiously, they are principally a Western form of dress — in the Far East they have rarely been used except in the traditional theatre of China and Japan. Some East Asian entertainers (Japanese Geisha, Korean Kisaeng) wore wigs (Katsura and gache respectively) as part of their traditional costumes.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the use of wigs fell into abeyance in the West for a thousand years until revived in the 16th century as a means of compensating for hair loss or improving one's personal appearance. They also served a practical purpose: the unhygienic conditions of the time meant that hair attracted head lice, a problem that could be much reduced if natural hair were shaved and replaced with a more easily de-loused artificial hairpiece. Fur hoods were also used in a similar preventative fashion.
Royal patronage was crucial to the revival of the wig. Queen Elizabeth I of England famously wore a red wig, tightly and elaborately curled in a "Roman" style while King Louis XIII of France (1601-1643) and King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) pioneered wig-wearing among men from the 1620s onwards. King Louis XIV of France was also popularly known as The Sun King (in French Le Roi Soleil). During his reign he build the Château de Versailles, a large and extravagant royal residence and moved there the court life from Paris. He created an elaborate court style at Versailles. King Louis XIV was dictating men's fashion at the time with his sophisticated style, and his exhuberant taste for luxury.
Perukes or periwigs for men were introduced into the English-speaking world with other French styles when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, following a lengthy exile in France. These wigs were shoulder-length or longer, imitating the long hair that had become fashionable among men since the 1620s. Their use soon became popular in the English court. The London diarist Samuel Pepys recorded the day in 1665 that a barber had shaved his head and that he tried on his new periwig for the first time, but in a year of plague he was uneasy about wearing it:
''"3rd September 1665: Up, and put on my coloured silk suit, very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but darst not wear it because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it. And it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any haire for fear of the infection? that it had been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague."
Wigs were not without other drawbacks, as Pepys noted on 27 March 1667:
"I did go to the Swan; and there sent for Jervas my old periwig-maker and he did bring me a periwig; but it was full of nits, so as I was troubled to see it (it being his old fault) and did send him to make it clean."''
With wigs becoming virtually obligatory garb for men of virtually any significant social rank, wigmakers gained considerable prestige. A wigmakers' guild was established in France in 1665, a development soon copied elsewhere in Europe. Their job was a skilled one as 17th century wigs were extraordinarily elaborate, covering the back and shoulders and flowing down the chest; not surprisingly, they were also extremely heavy and often uncomfortable to wear. Such wigs were expensive to produce. The best examples were made from natural human hair. The hair of horses and goats was often used as a cheaper alternative. In the 18th century, both men and women's wigs were powdered in order to give them their distinctive white or off-white color. Wig powder was made from finely ground starch that was scented with orange flower, lavender, or orris root. Wig powder was occasionally colored violet, blue, pink or yellow, but was most often used as white. Powdered wigs became an essential for full dress occasions and continued in use until almost the end of the 18th century. Powdering wigs was messy and inconvenient and the development of the naturally white or off-white powderless wig (made of horsehair) is no doubt what has made the retention of wigs in everyday court dress a practical possibility. By the 1780s, young men were setting a fashion trend by lightly powdering their natural hair. After 1790, both wigs and powder were reserved for older more conservative men, and were in use by ladies being presented at court. In 1795, the English government levied a tax of hair powder of one guinea per year. This tax effectively caused the demise of both the fashion for wigs and powder by 1800.
Today, wigs are worn by many on a daily or occasional basis as a matter of convenience as they can be styled ahead of time and then worn when there is not sufficient time to style one's own hair. They are also worn by individuals who are experiencing hair loss due to medical reasons (most commonly cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or those who are suffering from alopecia areata). In men, the most common cause of baldness is "male-pattern baldness" and this is probably the most common reason for wig-wearing in this group. The post-menopausal diffuse baldness of women, while more common than generally realized, is usually not severe enough to warrant the wearing of a wig.
A number of celebrities, including Dolly Parton and Raquel Welch have popularized wigs. Cher has worn all kinds of wigs in the last 40 years- from blonde to black, and curly to straight. They may also be worn for fun as part of fancy dress (costume wearing), when they can be of outlandish colour or made from tinsel. They are quite common at Halloween, when "rubber wigs" (solid bald cap-like hats, shaped like hair), are sold at some stores.
Rodolfo Valentin, the New York based hair designer, is worldwide known by the quality of his crafted, hand-custom-made hairpieces and wigs.
In Britain and most Commonwealth nations, special wigs are also worn by barristers, judges, and certain parliamentary and municipal or civic officials as a symbol of the office. The original purpose of the legal wig was said to provide a form of anonymity and safety (i.e. disguise). Today, Hong Kong barristers and judges continue to wear wigs as part of court dress as an influence from their former jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Nations. In July 2007, judges in New South Wales, Australia voted to discontinue to wearing of wigs in the NSW Court of Appeal.
In Jidaigeki, a genre of film and television, wigs are used extensively to alter the cast's hair styles to reflect the Edo Period when most stories take place. Only a few starring in big-budgeted films and television series will grow his or her hair so that it could be cut to a proper hair style instead of using a wig.
Another use seen in modern day society is for men who crossdress as women, wigs are used to make the men have more feminine hair in all sorts of styles, they wear this along with other 'female' clothing.
Orthodox Jewish religious law (Halakha) requires married women to cover her hair for reasons of modesty. Some women wear wigs, known as a sheitel, for this purpose.


wig in German: Perücke
wig in Spanish: Peluca
wig in Esperanto: Peruko
wig in French: Perruque
wig in Scottish Gaelic: Biorabhaig
wig in Korean: 가발
wig in Icelandic: Hárkolla
wig in Italian: Parrucca
wig in Hebrew: פאה נוכרית
wig in Dutch: Pruik
wig in Japanese: かつら (装身具)
wig in Norwegian: Parykk
wig in Low German: Prüük
wig in Polish: Peruka
wig in Portuguese: Peruca
wig in Sicilian: Pilucca
wig in Slovak: Parochňa
wig in Serbian: Перика
wig in Finnish: Peruukki
wig in Swedish: Peruk
wig in Turkish: Peruk
wig in Yiddish: שייטל
wig in Chinese: 假髮
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