Ringspun Yarns See Yarns

ROBE The word "robe" has an intriguing etymology, its stem coming from the verb "rob," whose original meaning was the spoils of war. Its primary definition in English specifies it as a garment worn in the European Middle Ages, its most salient features being a long, loose, billowing form and its use as a signifier of rank, office, or special position. "Robe" is often used interchangeably with the word "gown," though the original meaning of the latter denotes clothing styles particular to classical antiquity, such as the Roman toga. Common usage in the early twenty-first century expands these definitions further, to include a variety of garment forms ranging from informal bathrobes to women's formal evening wear and wedding gowns.

Loose-flowing outer garments in general have come to be known in the modern English-speaking world as markers of certain members of the clerisy, professoriate, or legal profession. Indeed, the words "robe" and "gown" are used as metonyms, shorthand terms that stand for each of these groups as a distinct social class. For exam-

ple, "robe" or "black robe" can refer either to monks, especially missionaries, or to judges, while "gown" is the preferred term for representing scholars and professors, as seen in the phrase "town and gown." These particular professional garments are all in one way or another based originally on ecclesiastical vestments, though the ones worn by judges and professors have undergone major changes in usage. In the early 2000s, judicial robes and academic gowns are worn over everyday costume and only on formal occasions, and so are therefore made of lightweight fabrics.

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