Why Is a Hat Called a Toboggan

A toboggan, or knit cap, is a great way to keep your head warm in cool temperatures and add style to your outfit. The hat fits usually tightly to your head and then falls loosely at the top. Let's learn about the origin of the name toboggan.

Definition of the word toboggan

For some people, the word toboggan means a light sled usually made of wooden boards. In the Southern and Midwestern U.S. states, however, the term refers primarily to a winter cap made of woolen fabric. In these particular states, the two words do not cross over in definition. The hat is a toboggan and a sled is a sled. The local word can cause confusion when used in other parts of the country if people assume you are talking about a sled on your head!

Synonyms for the hat-based word toboggan are bobble hat, beanie, and Sherpa. It is a type of toque and it always has a long top to it. The attire comes in many colors and fabric patterns.

Attire language: origin of the name toboggan

The word comes from different dialects in the United States. It still exists as a reference to a knitted hat in both Southern American and Appalachian English languages. Yooper dialect also includes the word as a reference to a hat.

The word toboggan comes from “toboggan cap,” a term that began to be used in the early 20th century. The term described the hat that people wore as they were tobogganing, or sledding, at that time. The hat was suitable for to wear as it kept their heads warm in the snowy weather.

The sledding activity became popular in the U.S. in the 1880s. The hats were functional for keeping in body heat and keeping hair from getting wet from snow. Earlier versions of the knitted cap were produced in Canada, Spain and Persia. Canadians have worn toques since the 1500s.

The toboggan hat today

Today, the hat still has the label of toboggan in some U.S. regions. The name likely still exists because people wear the attire in cold weather and often when they sled. As a sled is another name for a toboggan, the term still has value in the present-day English language.

Fabric for the hat is usually pure wool or a mixture of wool with other fibers. Trying the toboggan on prior to purchase is a good way to determine if the fabric itches your head. If so, look for a hat lined with fleece instead. As you try it on, also check if the fit is too loose or too tight.

There are two general definitions for the toboggan. One is as a hat and the other term is a wooden sled. Certain parts of the U.S. call the hat a toboggan; it is a term local to the Southern and Midwestern states.

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