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An example of the specific article of interest is the flat, light blue item worn by each individual in the below photo:

Graduation photo from illinois.edu

(Photo source: http://graduation.aces.illinois.edu/sites/graduation.aces.illinois.edu/themes/sitetheme/templates/images/Graduation-Large-Box-01.jpg, accessed 21 Feb 2016)

It does not appear to fit the definition of a sash or baldric or shoulder belt (these three drawn from this English.SE question), but I may be interpreting the definitions of these too strictly.

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Graduation stole or academic stole:

A stole takes the form of a cloth scarf-like garment worn over the shoulders adorned with the awarding Society's colours and/or insignia. Though not a part of officially recognised American Council on Education's Academic Costume Code, it has become common as part of the graduation attire at many high schools, colleges, and universities.

Here's a photo from the same page with the graduation stole highlighted:

enter image description here By Valedictorian_Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff.jpg: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffderivative work: Themightyquill - This file was derived from  Valedictorian Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff.jpg:, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20548944

[Wikipedia]

Apparently, the term graduation sash is common too:

The colors of graduation hoods, cap tassels and stoles, also called graduation sashes, are governed by traditions from the Middle Ages, reports the American Council on Education, or ACE. [ehow.com]

However, a sash typically goes diagonally across the body, like what pageant queens wear (see WBT's comment below). Sticking to stole is the safest thing to do.

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Think I knew this at one time, but it'd completely slipped my mind. Thanks! – Brian Feb 21 at 15:18
1  
A sash typically goes diagonally across the body, like what pageant queens wear. – WBT Feb 21 at 16:18
    
@WBT Not according to this page: While technically a "sash" is a garment that goes across the body from one shoulder to the opposite hip, when it comes to graduation sashes vs. stoles, both terms are used interchangeably. Both refer to the classic graduation garment that goes across the shoulders, with both ends falling vertically down the body. So really, there is no difference — Graduation stoles and Graduation Sashes are the same thing. – Yay Feb 21 at 17:02
1  
@Yay that company has a vested interest in getting people to use the word "sash" as interchangeable for "stole" as widely as possible, because of how they named their company and how they want to expand into a new lucrative market. Also, the quote (esp. first clause) echoes my comment (which did include "typically") more than it opposes it. – WBT Feb 21 at 17:12
    
@WBT Okay then. I've already edited my aswer. – Yay Feb 21 at 19:48

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