Definition: referring to aesthetic ruffles and flounces on clothing.

Pronunciation: Fur-bel-low

17th century, from ‘Falbala’, a 17th century European fashion term.

Why this word?

We live in one of the most fashion-obsessed times in history. Today, however, we tend not to talk about the individual fashion terms themselves as much as we do designers and labels. Today, we talk about Versace or Levi’s. What we are actually referring to, however, is the method by which these companies and designers have brought together and harmonized different fashion ideas and techniques. Consumers, however, tend to understand the look of a brand – but perhaps not the techniques used. Introducing people to the concept of the ‘furbelow’ is part of our drive towards consumer education…

How and when to use this word in a sentence:

Shopping for the masquerade ball. Going to a medieval fare. Making costumes for your local Shakespearian theatre company. You will encounter the furbelow in each of these everyday activities. However, this word is really directed at men. If you want to really impress your fiancé, compliment the understated furbelow use in that Vera Wang dress she has her eye on …


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Written by Sean Carabini

Seán Carabini is a Dublin-based author. To date, Seán has written the humorous travel memoirs 'Sticking Out in Minnesota' and 'American Road', as well as 'American Road: The poems' - a book of travel poetry related to the memoir. Seán has also developed a podcast based on the book - subscribe to the American Road podcast today! Seán is a committee member of the Irish Writers' Union.

Chrissy Skelton is Seán Carabini's editor. A graduate of the University of Minnesota's Anthropology programme, Chrissy emerged armed with an arsenal of little-known words and cumbersome jargon - all of which will now be off-loaded onto 'unusedwords' readers!


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