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The OED defines blond (noun) as:

  • A person with blond hair; one with light or ‘fair’ hair and the corresponding complexion; esp. a woman, in which case spelt blonde.

    • 1822 Edin. Rev. 199 Brenda, the laughing blue-eyed blonde.

Other sources suggest that "blonde" as a noun should be avoided as it may sound sexiest and offensive:

Blonde:

  • Blonde may be used to describe a woman’s hair, but it is sometimes considered offensive to refer to a woman as ‘a blonde’ because hair colour should not define what a person is like. (OLD)

  • The use of blonde as a noun in reference to a female with blonde hair is best avoided because it can be interpreted as sexist. (The Grammarist)

Questions:

  • When did the the noun "blonde" acquire a negative connotation"?
  • Is it still nowadays better to avoid referring to a woman as "a blonde"?
  • Are there differences in this respect between AmE vs BrE?
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    It is no good looking in the OED - their most recent example of the noun blonde is from 1858. But yes, in Britain use of the noun blonde for a woman would be considered sexist in correct circles. A similar problem arises with the term Essex girl, which has come to imply far more than a girl who happens to live in Essex. – WS2 Jan 8 '16 at 23:39
  • You should have provided examples of blond/e being used as an insult, or a derogatory term. Whether you believe it is more common in the US or in the UK. Do Italians ever suggest that blonde women are less intelligent than dark-haired women? Is this assertion only reserved in English speaking countries? You don't mention the most obvious derogatory expression: "dumb blonde". Blonde can also be a compliment "gorgeous blonde" "Blondes have more fun", "a blonde angel" etc. etc. This question has a lot of potential, just needs to be reworked. – Mari-Lou A Jan 9 '16 at 7:03
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    @Mari-LouA - Italian "bionda" does not carry the negative connotation that English dictionaries suggest treccani.it/vocabolario/bionda. I am referring to "a blonde" without an adjective as it appears that you don't need one to look offensive or sexist. An adjective would modify (positively or negatively) any noun. A dumb brunette. But does "a brunette" sound offensive? – user66974 Jan 9 '16 at 7:15
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    @Mari-LouA Describing a woman simply as a brunette seems equally boorish to me. One is simply describing someone by one aspect of their physical appearance. Now if I describe someone as An Italian linguist, with intelligence, charm and wit - then that's a different matter. – WS2 Jan 9 '16 at 10:03
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    Oops, it's spelt redhead, pardon me. @WS2 Well, I can't find any fault in your logic there, I find myself to be in perfect agreement. – Mari-Lou A Jan 9 '16 at 11:29
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From this Slate.com(1) article titled "When Did Blondes Get So Dumb?"

Probably since the late 19th century. In 1868, a British burlesque troupe began performing a spoof of the Ixion myth at the Wood's Museum theater in New York City. Featuring four blondes prancing around in tights, Ixion became an absolute sensation and outraged moralists who felt the girls were talentless wretches celebrated only for their bodies. The Ixion actresses were commonly referred to as the "British Blondes," but at some point in the ensuing decade, the term "dizzy blonde" started cropping up: slang for the sort of risqué stage performer that the Brits had helped make popular, and more generally for "professional" beauties, with "dizzy" meaning foolish or stupid. Hence in 1889 the Kansas Times and Star noted, "Many of the local clergy last night warned the church members against a 'Dizzy Blonde' company coming to one of the theaters soon

(1) Slate is a daily magazine on the Web. Founded in 1996, it is a general-interest publication offering analysis and commentary about politics, news, business, technology, and culture.

It's why artificial intelligence is a technic that consists in dyeing blond hair brown.

  • Instead of saying from this "article" why not provide its name? Citations must be properly attributed. And I don't understand the last line, is that your comment? A brown-haired woman who changes the colour of her hair is called dumb because she employs "artificial intelligence" in order to achieve her aim? – Mari-Lou A Jan 9 '16 at 6:58
  • @Mari-LouA - I edited my answer - Last line in one of the thousands jokes about "blondes". – Graffito Jan 9 '16 at 12:53
  • Oh, it's a joke!? Not very good one. Slate magazine is very well known in the US and on the net. Christopher Hitchens used to write for it. – Mari-Lou A Jan 9 '16 at 13:01

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