Word Origin & History
late 15c., from O.Fr. blont "fair, blond" (12c.), from M.L. adj. blundus "yellow," perhaps from Frankish *blund. If it is a Germanic word, it is possibly related to O.E. blonden-feax "gray-haired," from blondan, blandan "to mix" (see blend
). According to Littré, the
original sense of the French word was "a colour midway between golden and light chestnut," which might account for the notion of "mixed." O.E. beblonden meant "dyed," so it is also possible that the root meaning of blonde, if it is Germanic, may be "dyed," as ancient Teutonic warriors were noted for dying their hair. Du Cange, however, writes that blundus was a vulgar pronunciation of L. flavus "yellow." Another guess (discounted by German etymologists), is that it represents a V.L. *albundus, from alba "white." The word was reintroduced into English 17c. from French, and was until recently still felt as French, hence blonde (with Fr. fem. ending) for females. As a noun, used c.1755 of a type of lace, 1822 of persons. It. biondo, Sp. blondo, O.Prov. blon all are of Germanic origin.