n. — Clothing
a close-fitting knitted hat (see images and fist note).
Type: 1. Origin — Toque was borrowed into English from French and has been used to designate certain kinds of hats since the 16th century (OED-3, s.v. "toque"), including chefs' hats and lawyers' hats. Toque may also refer to a style of women's hat fashionable in North America in the late nineteenth century.
In Canada, this word and the spelling tuque was likely borrowed from Canadian French, as the hat was associated with French Canadians (see the 1865 quotation). The OED marks this spelling as Canadian, although its first quotation in the entry is from 1871 from the American Scribner's Magazine (OED-3, s.v. "tuque" ). However, it is from a travel story titled "Pictures from Canada" focused on Quebec. DARE, s.v. "tuque", lists a Wisconsin quotation from 1856 as the earliest American attestation, with reference to the "yoyageurs", a clear French-Canadian reference.
Voyageurs and lumbermen wore tuques with long tails (see Image 1a); later the meaning was generalized to include those without tails (Image 2) or pom-poms (see Image 1b). The word is found in Central and Prairie Canada early on (see the 1880 quotation from Manitoba, the 1881 quotation from Ontario, and the 1882 quotation from Alberta). The 1886 quotation below is the earliest occurrence found from British Columbia, which reports an event in Montreal and suggests a dissemination from east to west.
Early Canadian spellings are usually tuque, possibly to discriminate it from the women's hat. Our quotations database shows that a shift towards the o-spellings occurred after this type of women's hat fell out of fashion (see the 1943 quotation). There is even evidence for the variant spelling touque (see the first 2016 quotation); in an informal newspaper survey of 6500 Edmontonians, slightly over 40% chose touque, with toque at 35.5% and tuque at around 18% (see CBC Edmonton reference). Such hats are referred to elsewhere as beanies, stocking caps, or watch caps. As Chart 1 shows, the term is most frequent in Canada. Chart 2 illustrates that toque is found in every province or territory, which makes it a pan-Canadian term.
Toque is also culturally significant as one of the most widely known Canadianisms and is often also used as a generic name for winter hats, at least by younger residents.
See also Gage-1, s.v. "tuque", which is marked "Cdn.", ITP Nelson, s.v. "tuque", which does not label the term Canadian but shows a Canadian connection in an etymological note "Cdn.Fr. < Fr. toque". COD-2, s.v. "toque" (1), which is marked "Cdn", and OED-3, s.v. "tuque", which is marked "Canadian".
See also: Canadian tuxedo Teddy Bear Toss
- Today's common spelling toque with the pronunciation in [u] confuses many non-Canadians.
- 1865  One of the riders was of gigantic stature, and another of diminutive proportions; and all were clad in the coarse grey frieze suit of the country, and wore upon their heads the common blue cap or tuque. Pursuing their way, they kept to the least frequented paths, endeavouring to avoid recognition;
- 1880  When dinner was ready, the cook, a little fat man, with an apron tied round his waist, a long red toque on his head, and his shirt sleeves rolled above his elbows, put his hands to his mouth and gave a loud halloo.
- 1881  Though very stiff, sore, and unrefreshed, it was almost a luxury to crawl out of the frozen blankets and put on my moccassins, tuque, and great coat [...]
- 1882  Examination resumed -- Knew Chittick's signature, never saw Houston's writing; he denied that he could write; sent Chittick away in search of horses on the 2nd of October, when he went away he had a red tuque on; [Magistrate Court news]
- 1882  The locket and chain which were presented to Mr. A. Holloway were made by Mr. G. Seifert, the locket having upon it a pair of crossed snow-shoes and tuque with a monogram of the club beautifully raised on the one side.
- 1886  The stranger who experiments with the snow-shoe is apt to pronounce it an embodiment of total depravity. Having arrayed himself in blanket coat, sash, tuque, mittens, knickerbockers, leggings and moccasins and fastened on his snow-shoes, his -- literally -- first step is to move off and set the toe of one shoe firmly on the tail of the other;
- 1887  The snowshoers have adopted as their uniform a white blanket suit, sash, black stocking and black toque with a white tassel.
- 1896  His dress was characteristic. He at once assumed a Canadian aspect by wearing garments, grey, with a large check; the big Scotch-featured head piece, covered with a shock of red hair, was guarded by the broadest of bonnets, or on occasion with a toque, red tasseled, as Canadian as the homespun.
- 1912  Tuque (pronounced tuke), a woollen cap worn by a child, usually running to a peak, which ends with a tassel, said peak and tassel hanging down by the side of the head when the tuque is in use.
- 1914  Alexis had for a head covering a tuque, or thick woollen cap, commonly used in the woods in winter.
- 1921  Children's Toques 49 cents: These are in popular hockey toque style and have roll band with wool knob at top and are of all wool yarns, in cardinal, navy, fawn and maroon and white with cardinal and other effects.
- 1938  The Fort is filled with gay young French-Canadians in red tuques, coloured sashes, beaded leggings, and they all talk Cree.
- 1943  Dan . . . picked out two stout, brown, waterproof duffel bags. Into them went his red . . . Hudson's Bay blanket . . . a dry-bag containing thick socks . . . and a sleeping toque.
- 1961  Finished at last, Tommy pulled on a Montreal Canadiens' tuque, grabbed his stick and skates and ran outside to play hockey.
- 1964  Nicholson's red tuque and beard are basis for "Tuque Rouge" brand syrup he manufactures.
- 1977  /He/ romps in the snow with them, weraing a red-and-white tuque with a Canadian flag on the front.
- 1978  Each man from the armed forces comes completely equipped with his own green army-issue parka with its thirteen pockets; toques that fold down into face masks and large white moon boots to wards off cold toes. -- Yellowknife N.W.T.
- 1987  The toe rubber, even more than the toque - or tuque; at least we can agree on how to spell toe rubber - binds Canadian men together.
- 2008  After several wins -- for our backward cap in Nagano, jacket in Salt Lake City and tuque in Turin -- predictions are that this year's Chinese-influenced clothing will be just too over-the-top for most athletes.
- 2008  Transcripts from the police radio communications don't describe a blue hoodie but a 15- or 16-year-old native male believed to be armed with a gun wearing a blue tuque, a puffy white Nike ski jacket and white ball cap.
- 2010  The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 26-years-old,
6', 170 lbs. with a round face, short scruffy hair and an athletic
build. At the time of the incident he was wearing a black stocking or
toque style hat, blue jeans and a black fall jacket.
- 2016  WINTER CAMP TOUQUE
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- 2016  Sunday was spent harrowing and disking to get the seeding done. Not only was the work different, so was the weather - a testament to the farmers of the past who had no air conditioned, heated or covered cabs. On Sunday the wind and clouds came up with temperatures much lower than the day before. "Yesterday I was cookin' and sweating' and today I've got my coveralls and toque on," he joked.