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Hair Cutting...... Saloon?

The word 'saloon' is a word which I associate with westerns.  That is, Hollywood films set in the old days when the United States was pushing it's frontiers as far west as possible.  In that time, the west side of the United States seems to have been referred to as the 'wild west.'  The saloon was the place where these cowboys would hang out, play cards, drink liquor and challenge each other to pistol fights.  There usually wasn't a woman in sight except maybe a certain type of woman.  Certainly not your churchgoing type, no disrespect meant.

When I was a young girl in Ireland, many years ago, the word 'salon' (and NOT saloon!) was a fancy name for what we commonly just called 'the hairdresser's'.  It referred to the place where women go to have their hair cut, coloured and styled.  It  could also refer to the  beauty parlour where people (mostly women!) go to have facials, manicures and  pedicures, sunbed treatments etc.  Hairdressers in those days had a penchant for double-barrelled  names (French names particularly) so you had a lot of 'salons' with names like "Jeanne Marie's Hair and Beauty Salon" and "John Michael's Hair Cutting Salon".   I must admit "James Michael's Hair Cutting Salon" does have a certain ring to it.  Beats "Jim's Barbershop" hands down every time.  Although as far as I am aware, certain red blooded males continued to patronise the barbershops for a very long time and wouldn't be seen dead in anything as girly as a 'salon.'  All a matter of  personal taste really.

Here in India, however the words 'salon' and 'saloon' have become confused.  We actually have 'hair cutting saloons' here.  These 'saloons' don't have cowboys drinking liquor and playing cards.  Indians (and not the red variety) come here to get their hair cut.  For anyone interested in reading further on the subject, there is a nice post over on Ramana's Musings about hair cutting saloons.  Or at least one in particular.

However, the men in my house still prefer the roadside barber.   


  1. The mention of the roadside barber suddenly reminded me of a ladies hairdressing salon in Dublin from my working days. Gaelikaa, you might remember 'The Witch's Hut' - very expensive and he used to take clients out onto the pavement to cut their hair.... maybe it started on that one summer day we had an fado! lol. I think it was more of a publicity stunt really.

  2. And not just in India... the local barbers in the village where I used to live was called (without irony) the hairdressing saloon...

    Not the local signwriter's best day at work.

  3. Gaelkaa, thanks for the plug in. Indian English will overcome! In South India, cafe was pronounced Kayf and in Tamil it was phonetically written as such but since they do not have a 'f' they used p, and back again to English as Cape.

  4. I think I'd also prefer a roadside barber to a saloon. But then again, drinking, playing cards and shooting things while having my haircut is very appealing.

  5. Stopping by from SITS to say Hi to mt SITSer!

  6. That's so amusing. As a child, I confused the words. Evidently so does India. :)

  7. We do say sometimes that we are heading off to be "scalped" when we go for a haircut. Perhaps the American Westernization has something to do with that.

  8. My sister is a hairdresser which means that about once every 3 or 4 years (when I go home to Scotland) there's someone I trust to cut my hair!

  9. that is certainly a funny play on words! I just say I'm going to the hair place, lol :)

  10. What a fascinating post. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. How funny! I had no idea!
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog the other day.

  12. Ours are listed as Salons. A saloon is where you go after you get the nice haircut so you can scope the babes! haha!

  13. haha. in the US we have fancy salons too. otherwise, i just call it "the haircutting place" haha.

  14. I suppose there are lots of places in the world where translating a word with different meanings ends up being used in different ways. I know when I was in Japan in the early 1950s that English was translated in ways that were incredible -- like who would ever have thought of that! And then there were things that were just funny or odd sounding.

    I enjoyed my visit to your blog and appreciate your having visiting mine and left a generous comment.


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