Peplum vs pablum

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Peplum and pablum are two words that are often confused. We will examine the definitions of peplum and pablum, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A peplum is a bib or flounce of fabric attached at the waist of a woman’s article of clothing, such as a dress, blouse or jacket. Peplums were extremely popular in women’s clothing in the 1940s and in the 1980s, though the silhouette of the peplum dates back to Ancient Greece. In Ancient Greece, a piece of clothing called a peplos was tied around the waist, which is where the word peplum comes from. The plural form is peplums.

Pablum is a type of baby cereal that was first produced in 1931. Pablum was formulated to be bland and easily digested by young infants. The term pablum quickly came to mean anything bland, insipid, boring. The British spelling of pablum is pabulum. The word pablum is derived from the Latin pascere meaning to feed. When discussing the trademarked infant cereal, the word is capitalized as in Pablum.


Stephanie weighed in with a quick no on the peplum question, pointing out that a button-down shirt emphasizes its wearer’s rectangularity, while a peplum renders a torso bell-shaped.  (The New Yorker)

The sweetheart bodice was adorned by textured, floral tulle and a traditional peplum. (The New Orleans Advocate)

Those were ideas, attitudes and principles we took in with our Pablum and strained peaches. (The Winona Daily News)

It’s too bad that many of the folks who spew their pablum in opinion columns in this paper have gotten more liberal (Dean Minnich comes to mind), but those people are in the minority — particularly in this county. (The Carroll County Times)