Tag Archives: Bradford

Toboggan As A Hat Instead Of A Sled In Virginia

Main piece:

Toboggan in reference to a hat


Toboggan is a term typically used in reference to sleds, however my informant who is a man in his early 50s from southwest Virginia told me that in his hometown of Bradford, Virginia, the term is only used to describe a winter hat. It was not until he went to college in Virginia but outside his hometown did he learn the usual use of the word. Furthermore, the informant claims that this use of the word as a hat is unique to only a small Appalachian community consisting of his hometown and a few other nearby areas. 


This story was shared with me during an encounter with my informant wherein I asked if he had any examples of local Appalachian folk culture. The conversation occurred in his backyard alongside family and friends.


While this piece might not be as groundbreaking as other examples in this collection, I find the parameters of this unique saying fascinating. First of all, toboggan is generally understood as some sort of sled. This begs the question of why, regionally, it changed to another winter-based object. Furthermore, the area affected by this saying is rather small. According to my informant, the use of the word is regulated to small communities in the Appalachian area. So much so that when he went to college, still within Virginia, using the word toboggan as a hat seemed ridiculous. This, in my opinion, shows extreme examples of regional distinction as only someone directly from one of those typically isolated communities would refer to toboggan as a hat.