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Is the word "don" strictly used for clothing on humans? Can it be used it in a sentence like:

His room, donning posters of rock stars, was a stark contrast from the rest of the house.

Or is "adorned" a better word for this?

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    To the extent that the room is being personified it's perfectly fine.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 28, 2016 at 21:33
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    But if I were to say such a thing, I’d say, “his room, donned with posters of...”. donning means “in the midst of putting on” not “wearing”
    – Jim
    Feb 28, 2016 at 22:06
  • It's not literal. 'don' is OK but sounds a little weird so maybe not the best.
    – Mitch
    Feb 29, 2016 at 3:32
  • It's for a creative writing piece, and I do want to personify the room in a sense that, the room reflects the opposite of what the character feels. But I think "festooned with posters", suggested by @Brian seems like a good choice.
    – Rio1210
    Feb 29, 2016 at 12:50

4 Answers 4

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I would say no, not because "don" is only for clothing, but because "don" doesn't mean "wear" it means "put on" - an activity, not a state.

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    Don is a shortening of "do on." Similarly, doff is a shortening of "do off." etymonline.com/index.php?term=don Feb 28, 2016 at 22:05
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    True, but irrelevant, @StevenLittman. It is a fallacy to argue the meaning of a word from its historical origin. The meaning lies in what the word is used, and understood, to mean: this may or may not reflect its origin.
    – Colin Fine
    Feb 29, 2016 at 10:39
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Merriam-Webster shows 'don' to be used with clothes only.

'Adorned' can be used, but it has a somewhat more specific meaning as can be seen in this definition (again from M-W): "to enhance the appearance of especially with beautiful objects". With beauty generally being considered as being in the eye of the beholder, the phrase also carries a certain judgement (lacking a better word for this in my vocabulary).

Depending on the number of posters, 'covered' could be used instead. If you are not picky about the exact phrase but are looking for a way to convey that there are a lot of posters in the room / on the walls, you could also try to rephrase the sentence to get the message across.

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    Maybe add "festooned with posters"--or, metaphorically, and especially if you dislike such posters, "sprouting posters," as if they were a form of mold. Feb 28, 2016 at 22:27
  • @Brian - Thanks for adding a few more words! The reason that I am not adding more examples to my answer is because there are quite a few alternatives, but with each carrying its own specific meaning and/or contextual connotation, I fear it'd become too long a post without necessarily adding anything to what ultimately was a yes/no question.
    – Terah
    Feb 28, 2016 at 22:33
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The phrase donned with appears to be used occasionally in reference to things, other than clothing, that can be said to be "worn," metaphorically speaking. A Google search reveals such instances as a cake "donned with...Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting" and an all-season tent "donned with sturdier poles and heavier fabrics than three-season models."

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  • I wonder if the song "Deck the Halls", with its line "Don we now our gay apparel", may have led to some confusion between don and deck.
    – ruakh
    Feb 29, 2016 at 5:00
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Depends on whether you want to reflect how most people use the word (for clothes only) or you want to be imaginative, poetic, and metaphoric.

I'd say go for it - everyone will understand you, and it's an interesting image. But at least be aware that you are being creative - this is invention, not convention. That doesn't make it bad or inappropriate, for most contexts.

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  • Care to explain the downvote?
    – Drew
    Feb 29, 2016 at 0:24
  • Wasn't me, but if I had to guess, it's because that entire second paragraph could probably be applied to half the questions on this site. It's not anything especially unique about this word or its usage. Usually, when someone comes to this site with a question like this, they're trying to gauge the sense of how weird it would sound. It seems very weird to my ears; I definitely had to think about the sentence for a few moments. Perhaps the downvoter felt the same.
    – jpmc26
    Mar 1, 2016 at 3:50

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