Monday, 1 September 2014

Décolletage - She's Got Some Neck

Actress Gina Lollobrigida and her fabulous 1960s décolletage


Noun. Late 19th century.
[French, from décolleter expose the neck, from dé + collet collar of a dress etc.]

1 The low-cut neckline of a woman's garment. L19

2 Exposure of the neck and shoulder by such a neckline. L19

Portrait of Isabella of Parma
Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779)


Adjective. Mid-19th century.
[French décolleter, as above.]

Of a (woman's) garment: having a low-cut neckline.
Of a woman: wearing a low-necked garment.
Also figuratively, daring, slightly improper.

As much I relished writing about cleavage, I must admit that the word is rather vulgar. Fortunately, the saucy French have provided us (as they so often do) with an altogether more refined alternative in décolletage, which originates from the delightfully specific French verb décolleter, 'to show the neck'. And as a bonus, its related adjective décollete has the thoroughly marvellous definition of 'slightly improper'!

If you have something to get off your décolletage, do please leave a comment in the box below.


  1. So what really appeals is the neck? Right ;)
    I wonder if every letter has some word that brings the "mind" into the area ;) (because when on Twitter I saw this I immediately thought "didn't Eddie came up with something like this at C????)
    Funny how the French went from showing off, rather magnificently I must say, the... neck... into not having, or wanting, nothing to show... Rest of the world still needs to receive the memo though ;). But then we wouldn't have Apple and the world so bothered because some "necks" were exposed, right?

    1. It's funny, as the whole area is rather functionally useless (although I'm sure what goes on beneath the surface is very important indeed), and yet it get its very own fancy French word to describe it!

    2. That's the French all right... they even have a sounding word for a sack's bottom ;).
      I don't think it's useless - it's the wraping of the most important and they are of opinion that the wrap is half the gift itself :P

    3. That, Teresa, was most eloquently put. I stand corrected : o )