Borrowed from French fichu (“(noun) triangular scarf; (adjective) got up, put together”) (in the sense of something thrown on without much thought), from ficher (“to drive something (such as a nail) by its point”), ultimately from Latin fīgō (“to fasten, fix; to pierce, transfix; to drive (a nail)”), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeygʷ- (“to set up”).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈfɪʃ(j)uː/, /ˈfiː-/
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈfɪʃ(j)uː/, /ˈfi-/
- Hyphenation: fi‧chu
fichu (plural fichus)
- (chiefly historical) A woman's lightweight triangular scarf worn over the shoulders and tied in front, or tucked into a bodice to cover the exposed part of the neck and chest.
- 1827 September, “Records of the Beau Monde. Fashions for September, 1827. Explanation of the Prints of the Fashions.”, in La Belle Assemblée, or Court and Fashionable Magazine; […], volume VI, number 33, London: Published by Geo[rge] B[yrom] Whittaker, […], OCLC 317944382, page 122, column 1:
- No. 2.—Carriage Dress. A dress of taffety of the very lightest tinge of willow-green; with four broad tucks, or bias folds, round the border, carried up almost the whole length of the skirt. The body made quite plain; and an elegant fichu worn over it, made of fine India muslin, with a standing-up collar; finished by a full frill-trimming of very fine lace. This trimming, when the fichu is of crape or of Japanese gauze, is of blond.
- 1868 May, “Fashion at Longchamps”, in London Society. An Illustrated Magazine of Light and Amusing Literature for the Hours of Relaxation, volume XIII, number LXXVII, London: Office, 217, Piccadilly, W. [printed by William Clowes and Sons], OCLC 224109708, page 407, column 1:
- The ‘fichu’ proper, introduced by Marie-Antoinette, not before the décolletée style of toilette made it positively necessary, was nothing more than a lace kerchief worn crossed over the shoulders.
- 1872 June, “Fashions for June”, in Charles Jacobs Peterson, editor, Peterson’s Magazine, volume LXI, number 6, Philadelphia, Pa.: Charles J. Peterson, OCLC 4260501, page 446, column 2:
- The fichu is made in such a manner that it can at pleasure be either at the neck or in the center of the back, or at the waist, according as the fichu is arranged, more or less forward in front. For ladies who are unwilling to wear tight-fitting garments in the street without something to conceal the figure, these plaited fichus are most convenient; [...] These fichus are trimmed with bows, and are made according to the taste of the wearer.
- 1919, Ronald Firbank, chapter IX, in Valmouth: A Romantic Novel, London: Duckworth, OCLC 796046300, page 93; republished in The Works of Ronald Firbank, volume III (Valmouth; The Princess Zoubaroff), London: Duckworth; New York, N.Y.: Brentano’s, 1929, OCLC 3141726, page 93:
- She wore a dress of filmy white stuff, embroidered with bunches of pale mauve thistles, a full fichu, and a large mauve hat with wide mauve ribbons, tied in front in a large knot where the fichu was crossed on her bosom.
- 1969, Vladimir Nabokov, chapter 5, in Ada, or, Ardor: A Family Chronicle, New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Book Company, OCLC 799495966; republished Harmondsworth, London: Penguin Books, 1970, →ISBN, part 2, pages 288–289:
- Assistant Van admired her elegant slenderness, the gray tailor-made suit, the smoky fichu and as it wafted away, her long white neck.
- 2009, Dorothy Denneen Volo; James M. Volo, “The Look: Fashion and Women’s Clothing”, in Daily Life in Civil War America (Greenwood Press Daily Life through History Series), 2nd edition, Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood Press, ABC-CLIO, →ISBN, page 289:
- Dresses were updated or embellished by the use of accessories. A dress might be given a different look by the addition of a fichu. Fichus were often made of sheer, gauze-like fabrics. They were decorated with ruffles, ribbons, lace, and bows. Fichus were particularly popular in warmer climates at a time when propriety dictated that a lady's shoulders be fully covered until evening. A cooler dress with a scooped neckline could be worn and covered by the lightweight fichu. Older women often wore fichus with their ball gowns.
Past participle of ficher (various senses).
fichu m (plural fichus)
- (colloquial) lousy, rotten, hell of a
- (colloquial) done for
- (colloquial) put together, rigged out, got up
- “fichu” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).