Posted by: Jack Henry | September 30, 2014

Editor’s Corner: Walking in a Widow’s Wonderland

As I visited with my parents the other day and caught them up on things, I mentioned that my friend, co-worker, and Nifty Nuggets writer, Jackie, calls me “Eddie.”

“Oh how cute,” my dad said, “Eddie the editor.”

“That is cute,” I said, “But actually she calls me Eddie, as in ‘Eddie Munster,’ because when my hair was short you could see my widow’s peak.”

Eddie Munster

In case you aren’t familiar with the term widow’s peak, it is when the hairline on your forehead comes to a “V” in the middle—like Eddie Munster, Count Dracula, and other famously “peaked” individuals.

Marilyn Monroe, with the most glamorous of widow’s peaks

US Senator John Ryan, sporting a prominent widow’s peak

So after comparing hairlines and discussing other terms, like the widow’s walk on a house, we came back to pondering where the term widow’s peak comes from. This one’s for you, Dad!

According to Wikipedia:

The term stems from the belief that hair growing to a point on the forehead—suggestive of the peak of a widow’s hood—is an omen of early widowhood. The use of peak in relation to hair dates from 1833. The expression widow’s peak dates from 1849. The use of peak may refer to the beak or bill of a headdress, particularly the distinctive hood with a pointed piece in front.

Another explanation for the origin of the phrase suggests that it may be related to the mourning caps worn as early as the 16th century. A mourning cap or “Mary Stuart Cap” is a cap which features a very distinctive triangular fold of cloth in the middle of the forehead, creating an artificial widow’s peak.

Mary Stuart (Mary, Queen of Scots) in a “widow’s cap”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory


  1. The photo is of Paul Ryan, not John.
    Interesting little article.

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