The Etymology of “Glamour”


1. a magic spell <the girls appeared to be under a glamour – Llewelyn Powys>

2. an exciting and often illusory and romantic attractiveness <the glamour of Hollywood>; especially : alluring or fascinating attraction –often used attributively <glamour stock> <glamour girls> <whooping cranes and “¦ other glamour birds – R. T. Peterson>


1720, Scottish, “magic, enchantment” (especially in phrase to cast the glamor), a variant of Scottish gramarye “magic, enchantment, spell,” alteration of English grammar (q.v.) with a medieval sense of “any sort of scholarship, especially occult learning.” Popularized by the writings of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Sense of “magical beauty, alluring charm” first recorded 1840. As a verb, by 1830s, from the noun.


Societal Evolution

We live in a society obsessed with the cult of celebrity.  This culture is wholly based on the idea of, fascination with and promulgation of glamour. Whether it be the cosmetics industry or Wall Street, nearly every industry in our post-modern world is about getting and attaining glamour. This culture is a house of cards built on something that doesn’t even exist. Glamour is something vampires use to make mortals think they did not see something that they did. Inversely, the culture of celebrity uses glamour to make you see something that is not there. It is just a sleight of hand and a trick of the eye. Glamour does not exist in this dimension. So next time you feel badly about yourself because someone else’s life seems more glamorous than your own, remember that what you are seeing does not exist. You are only seeing what the other person wants you to see.

By January

January Kerr studied government and legal theory at Lafayette College. She earned her law degree, cum laude from the New York Law School. After a decade of practicing securities litigation, she decided to focus her life on raising a family. It was through the birth of her daughter that her creative fire was rekindled and she rediscovered her passion for writing and philosophy.

Ms. Kerr writes creative non-fiction and focuses on post modern feminist thought and esoteric philosophy. Her writing is further characterized by metaphysical connections and transcendental thought. Through etymology (study of word orgin), epistemology (study of knowledge) and metaphysics (study of nature of being), she hunts through the past to explain the present and gleam the future.

8 replies on “The Etymology of “Glamour””

This reminds me of a Terry Pratchett quote:

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.

Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.

Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.

Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.

Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.

Elves are terrific. They beget terror.

The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.

No one ever said elves are nice.

Elves are bad.


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