Monday 30 May 2011


As I was preparing my late and lenten supper last night, I was reminded of the word pilgarlic. You see, I was peeling garlic at the time. Have you ever peeled garlic? Does that smooth, shiny surface remind you of anything? Yul Brynner, perhaps?

Let's look at the evidence:

Do you see what I mean? A pilgarlic is an ancient and derogatory term for a bald man. It was invented by John Skelton who once wrote:

Your peeled-garlic head
Could occupy there no stead.

And has been used off and on ever since. As late as 1978 the Oxford Times wrote:

BBC 1 offers those pilgarlic gentlemen Yul Brynner (in an adventure movie) and Telly Savalas (as Kojak).

But despite the continued absenteeism of hair, the word has fallen, unjustly into disuse. This is actually rather useful, as, if you call a chap a pilgarlic to his face, he probably won't understand what you mean.

Yul in his pre-pilgarlic days

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