Let Your Hair Down

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Let Your Hair Down : Phrases


To behave in a free or uninhibited manner, give free expression to one’s private views, to relax and drop one’s reserve or inhibitions after a period of restraint, to behave informally.


After a few drinks, they let their hair down and freely discussed their family problems.


(1) Letting one's hair down was a commonplace part of women's daily activities in the 17th century. The hair was normally pinned up and was let down for brushing or washing (dishevelling). Anyone who is unkempt and generally untidy would be described as dishevelled (when referred to hair which was unpinned). One of the first references to this is John Cotgrave's, The English treasury of wit and language, 1655 : Descheveler, to discheuell; to pull the haire about the eares.

(2) This expression may have originated in the days of Louis XIV (1638–1715), when elaborate hair styles such as the fontange, a pile of hair, feathers, bows, and ornaments that rose two feet and more above the wearers heads, were popular among French women.

The direct precursor of Let one’s hair down was Let one's back hair down. The earliest example is from 1847, where, as in the disheveled sense above, the expression was being used in the literal sense. Back Hair was the common 19th century expression for the long hair at the back of a woman's head. Thanks to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, American Heritage Dictionary, Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Facts on File Dictionary of Clichés, Oxford Dictionary of Slang, Oxford English Dictionary, Cassell's Dictionary of Slang.

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