What does louche mean?

Word count: 253 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

If you increase your vocabulary you’ll not only help your reading, you’ll also make your writing more precise. Here is my word of the week. 

I have little interest in and certainly no aptitude for fashion. But I found a great deal of pleasure in the book The Measure of a Man by JJ Lee. A thoughtful study of what it means to be a son and a tailor, the book examines the author’s heartbreaking childhood with an alcoholic, abusive father and Lee’s own efforts to learn to construct a suit.

Incredibly, it also tells the social history of the male fashion. Lee is a masterful tailor to be able to knit together those diverse themes! He also gave me my word of the week: louche. Here is the sentence in which it appears:

The button placement is low and swaying, evidence of Giorgio Armani’s early louche influence on menswear. 

The word louche means disreputable or sordid — but in a rakish or appealing way. Take a look at a photo of Glee actor Chord Overstreet wearing Armani to see how disreputable can also be appealing. (One of my teenage daughters forced me to write that line.)

“Louche” comes from the 19th century French word of the same spelling,  meaning “squinting.” This, in turn, comes from 12 century Old French lousche, lois meaning “cross-eyed, squint-eyed, lop-sided.” And that originated from the Latin lusca, the feminine of luscus meaning “one-eyed.”

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