I was reading along in somebody else’s historical romance prose–and good prose it was too–when I came across the word merkin. I’d forgotten this word, which is hard to believe when I give you the 1796 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue definition for it:
counterfeit hair for women’s privy parts
Huh? Yeah, a wig for use in an unlikely location. Seems professional ladies in days of yore (the word dates from about 1450) got in the habit of shaving certain areas the better to manage their hygiene (I’m being delicate here). They devised the merkin to accommodate those of their customers who preferred the unshorn version of their wares, but I have yet to find anybody who can tell me how these little doodads were kept in place.
On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know.