RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

Addie Mock, meet Miss Nomer

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April December 12, 2008 07:05 PM

So far, in my seasonal catalog browsing, I haven't found any shockers to rival the one my friend Louise recently spotted in a tasteful museum catalog, a nightgown of "dotted swill." Nor have I seen a color name any stranger than my all-time favorite, "perineal blue," one of the available shades for a department store sweater.

But I did find a brain teaser of a product name in the Woolrich catalog this fall: a sweater called the Addie Mock Cardigan.


At first glance I thought it was a "mock cardigan," one that looked as if it opened but didn't. But no, the small type said "full-zip front." Was it a mock turtleneck? It was -- but that didn't answer for sure whether "mock" was short for "mock turtleneck" or part of the name. Many of the clothing items, like Oscar Mayer's bologna, seemed to have both a first name and a second name: Pine Tree, Still Creek, Misty Ridge, West Valley.

Scouting the catalog, I found a clue. Personal names for garments, as opposed to place names and tree names, tended to be one-word: Wanetta, Marylee, Katee. So although Addie Mock would be an excellent pioneer name -- an American Girl doll's name, say -- it looks as if the intention here is: Addie (Mock [turtleneck]) Cardigan.

As for that dotted swill: It's really dotted Swiss, a lightweight cotton with allover dots (usually) woven or embroidered into it, a sweet fabric for little girls and little curtains. The "Swiss" is short for "Swiss muslin," says the OED; it dates "dotted Swiss" to an 1897 Sears, Roebuck catalog offering a shirt "with wide pleated puff bosom of snow white dotted Swiss." Sounds like something Addie Mock might have liked.

  • E-mail
  • E-mail this article

    Invalid E-mail address
    Invalid E-mail address

    Sending your article

    Your article has been sent.

Rules and realities of English usage from Boston Globe Ideas columnist Jan Freeman.
Jan Freeman, a former Boston Globe editor, has been writing the weekly column The Word since 1997. E-mail her at

browse this blog

by category