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Let one’s hair down

The phrase let one’s hair down dates back to women’s grooming practices, four hundred years ago. We will examine the meaning of the idiom let one’s hair down, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To let one’s hair down means to behave in an uninhibited fashion, to behave freely. The idiom dates back to the 1600s, when women in the upper classes wore their hair in extremely elaborate hairdos, replete with feathers or flowers and towering two feet and more in height. When at home, these women could let their hair down or relax in a more natural way. During the 1600s, this was called disheveling, or wearing one’s hair in a more natural or even messy manner. The idea of literally letting one’s hair down persisted into the early 1900s, as women continued to grow their hair long and pin it up in public. This changed in the 1920s when women began to bob their hair. Today, let one’s hair down is an idiom and is seldom used literally.


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Examples

It might allow you to “break the ice” or “let your hair down” at your next family gathering or office party. (The Post and Courier)

Her song “Fireball Whiskey” came from a night, after which Mouridsen told her “sometimes you have to let your hair down and be your drunken self.” (The Iowa State Daily)

According to The Sun, a source confirmed Nicola’s return to the series, claiming: ‘She’s had the worst two years of her life but now she’s feeling strong and she is desperate to let her hair down and have some fun in there!’ (The Daily Mail)

Hours later—in now-signature bombshell fashion—Hadid let her hair down, shaking out the perfectly textured lengths born of a post-shower bun. (Vogue Magazine)

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