Why Do Americans Call a Fringe Bangs

Why Do Americans Call a Fringe “Bangs”? Origins of a Hairstyling Term

If you’ve ever wondered why the word “bangs” is used to describe a specific type of haircut, you’re not alone. The fascinating history behind this terminology traces its roots to a surprising source: the world of equestrianism. 

Americans call a fringe “bangs” because the term likely originated from the practice of cutting a horse’s tail straight across, called a “bang-tail.” This term was eventually applied to hair cut straight across the forehead, simplifying language to describe the hairstyle.

Here, We’ll discuss how language changes, the impact of culture, and the surprising connection between hairstyling and horse grooming all play a role in this unique journey.

The Origin of the Term “Bangs”

The Origin of the Term "Bangs"

The French Connection: One theory suggests that the term “bangs” may have been borrowed from the French word “frange,” which means fringe. French fashion and hairdressing trends often influenced American style during this era, and the adoption of the term “bangs” could be attributed to the French influence on American culture.

Onomatopoeia: Another theory proposes that “bangs” was coined due to the onomatopoeic quality of the word. When hair is cut straight across the forehead, it makes a sharp, distinctive “bang” sound as the scissors cut through. 

Military Influence: In the 19th century, military haircuts often featured short, straight-across fringes. Soldiers would have it in a simple and functional manner, and this style may have popularized the term “bangs” as it became associated with military cuts.

Popularization in the 20th Century: “Bangs” became increasingly popular during the mid-20th century, partly due to the influence of Hollywood and celebrity culture. Actresses and public figures sporting this hairstyle made it widely recognized and adopted, further solidifying the term in American vernacular.

Fringe And Bangs Trend Worth Exploring

1. Wispy Bangs: In stark contrast to a conventional fringe, wispy bangs exude an air of delicacy with their soft, textured strands gracefully framing your forehead. This understated elegance particularly complements those with longer face shapes.

2. Curtain Bangs: Among the latest sensations, curtain bangs have captured the limelight. They entail longer tresses that elegantly frame both sides of your face, creating effortlessly chic, face-framing elements that flatter just about anyone.

3. Choppy Fringe: Transitioning to more voluminous options, the choppy fringe lives up to its name with a textured, multidimensional appearance. By varying the hair lengths, this style achieves a bold, well-defined finish.

4. Blunt Bangs: The classic, bold look of blunt bangs, often associated with icons like Taylor Swift, boasts a thick, straight line of fringe across the forehead. While not everyone can pull it off, it’s particularly flattering for those with long or oval-shaped faces.

5. Side Fringe: Banish any ’00s emo phase flashbacks – the side-swept fringe can still be an emblem of style in 2021. Modernizing the trend means opting for a wispy side fringe, rather than the thick, layered side bangs of yesteryears. With a side part, you’ll achieve a chic and contemporary look.

Cultural Factors

Here’s a closer look at these cultural influences:

Hollywood and the Entertainment Industry:

  • Hollywood has been a powerful influencer of fashion and beauty trends, including hairstyles, for decades. Actresses in classic films often sported the “bangs” or fringe hairstyle, making it a popular choice among women.
  • Hairstylists working in the entertainment industry played a pivotal role in popularizing the term and the style itself. They often used “bangs” when discussing or promoting various hairstyles in films and television shows.

Pop Culture and the Impact on Hair Terminology:

  • Pop culture, encompassing music, fashion, and media, has a profound effect on how people perceive and adopt trends. It became deeply embedded in pop culture conversations as it was used to describe the iconic hairstyles of celebrities.
  • Further also gained global popularity due to its frequent appearance in discussions of fashionable hairstyles on television programs, beauty blogs, and fashion publications.

Iconic Figures and Celebrities:

  • Many iconic figures and celebrities have sported it over the years, making it a symbol of style and sophistication. Celebrities like Audrey Hepburn, Bettie Page, and more recently, Zooey Deschanel, have been associated with it.
  • These celebrity endorsements and associations have had a significant impact on the hairstyle’s popularity, with many people requesting it at hair salons based on these famous figures’ looks.

Linguistic Evolution and the Term “Bangs”

Borrowing from Other Languages:

It often involves borrowing words and phrases from other languages. In the case of “bangs,” it’s possible that the term was borrowed from the French word “frange,” which means fringe. American English, like many languages, has a history of incorporating foreign terms into its vocabulary.

Slang and Vernacular:

Moreover, the development of slang and vernacular terms is a common aspect of linguistic evolution. Also it might have originated as a colloquial or informal term to describe a specific hairstyle. Such slang terms often become part of the everyday lexicon as they are used more widely and adopted by different language communities.

Simplicity and Descriptiveness:

In addition, it can prioritize simplicity and descriptiveness in language. It is a concise and descriptive term for a hairstyle where the hair is cut straight across the forehead. Such concise terms are often favored in language evolution as they are easy to understand and use.

Cultural Adaptation:

As cultural and fashion trends evolve, language adapts to reflect these changes. The rise of the “bangs” hairstyle in the 20th century, influenced by Hollywood and popular culture, led to the increased usage of the term “bangs” to describe it.

Language Fusion:

Lately it often involves the fusion of different linguistic influences. American English, for example, has been influenced by various languages over the centuries, and “bangs” could be seen as the result of this linguistic fusion.

Regional Variations

In the United States, the way people refer to and prefer hairstyles like “bangs” can vary depending on the region. On the East Coast, there’s often a preference for classic and conservative styles, and “bangs” is a commonly used term to describe them. 

In contrast, the West Coast tends to embrace more progressive trends, and they may use different names like “curtain bangs” for creative variations. In the Southern states, “fringe” is a term that’s sometimes more commonly used due to the region’s blend of tradition and charm. The Midwest, known for practicality, generally welcomes “bangs” with its straightforward terminology. 

Afterward, Urban areas have a broader acceptance of various hairstyles, including different types of “bangs,” while rural areas might stick to simpler and more traditional styles. Climatic conditions can also influence choices, with milder climates favoring “bangs,” and regions with extreme weather conditions may see people opting for different hairstyles.

 Local slang terms and colloquialisms can sometimes replace the standard term “bangs,” and diverse communities in certain regions may have their unique names for specific types of “bangs.” Additionally, regional celebrities and influencers can significantly impact the popularity and preferred terminology associated with it, as local trends often reflect their choices.

Modern Usage of “Bangs” in Hairstyling

Modern Usage of "Bangs" in Hairstyling

Modern “bangs” in hairstyling are versatile and popular. People of all ages can choose different lengths and styles to match their look and personality. Celebrities and fashion icons help make “bangs” trendy through media and social platforms. 

Further, the internet offers tutorials and advice on how to style and maintain “bangs,” making it easy for anyone to try this look. Hairstylists also play a big role in creating the perfect one style for each person.

One great thing about it is they are low-maintenance but have a big impact. They frame the face nicely and can make you look stylish without a major haircut. Whether you want a classic look or something more unique, it lets you express your style easily.


Why do they call a fringe “bangs” in America?

The term “bangs” in America likely evolved from the practice of cutting a horse’s tail straight across, known as a “bang-tail,” which was later applied to describe a hairstyle.

Do Americans call a fringe “bangs?”

Yes, Americans commonly refer to a fringe as “bangs” in hairstyling terminology.

What is the difference between a fringe and bangs?

“Fringe” and “bangs” are often used interchangeably, but they both describe hair cut straight across the forehead to frame the face.

What do we call bangs in British English?

In British English, the term “fringe” is used to describe what Americans refer to as “bangs.”

What do Europeans call bangs?

Europeans often use various terms in their respective languages to describe bangs, reflecting linguistic diversity.

What do French bangs look like?

French bangs typically refer to a style where the hair is cut short and straight across the forehead, framing the face in a classic and elegant manner.

Final Words

To wrap up, Americans call a fringe “bangs” because the term evolved over time from the practice of cutting a horse’s tail straight across, known as a “bang-tail.” This linguistic shift shows how language can adapt and change to describe a specific hairstyle, reflecting the fascinating connections between everyday language and history.

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