Can "shavelings" be used to refer to Asian monks? Or it only refers to Occidental shaven-headed church men? Can a shaven-headed civilian be called a "shaveling"?

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    You can call them that if you like. But if your hearers have not heard the term before (as I have not), it is not much use for communication. – GEdgar Oct 24 '13 at 12:25
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    Ditto. Precisely. If you're writing a science-fiction novel set on a different planet, you can make up your own names in context. But, while shaveling has a transparent meaning, it's a fossil, and most English speakers will not have any experience of its specific history of use or reference. And it's occidental, just like accidental, except for the first vowel. – John Lawler Oct 24 '13 at 14:07
  • I am not going to use it in dailiy communication. I just want to know when,where,and how people use it, no matter historically or contemporarily:) – dennylv Oct 25 '13 at 0:55
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    And, although it's off-topic, both Oriental and Occidental should be capitalized when they refer to the East and the West. Plus, for whatever reason, "Oriental" isn't that PC when applied to a person; consider using "Asian". – Malvolio Oct 25 '13 at 0:58
  • I would tend to use "skinhead". – Hot Licks May 2 '17 at 1:10

You certainly can, but you might consider the fact that even fairly obscure words like "cenobite" and "skete" are both more specific and more common than "shaveling"


Tonsured is the word you are looking for. It refers specifically to cutting or shaving the hair of the head as an outward sign of a monastic vow, and in the Orthodox Christian sacrament of Chrismation.

Cenobite is a monk who lives in a monastic community, rather than as a hermit. Skete is a type of monastic community. Neither of those terms refer specifically to the shorn or shaved head.

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