1

The word co-ord means

one of two or more pieces of clothing that are made in matching colours or styles so that they can be worn together

When was this word first used in this sense?

2
  • 1
    Here's an instance of "co-ords" in the relevant sense from a J.C. Penney's ad in the San Bernardino [California] Sun (June 17, 1955): "Value! Blouse 'n' Skirt Color Co-ords $1.00 blouse $2.00> skirts."
    – Sven Yargs
    May 17 at 21:08
  • @SvenYargs I am only interested in the truncated form but thank you.
    – graffe
    May 18 at 9:19

1 Answer 1

2

The word is an abbreviation of co-ordinates, which itself likely comes from coordinated outfit. The Oxford English Dictionary traces a specific usage for women's clothes to the late 1950s ("co-ordinate, adj. and n," 3):

plural. A set of women's clothes matched as to colour or fabric or other features.

1959 Vogue Mar. (advt.) 120 Knitwear and Tweed Co-ordinates..by Munrospun.

1962 Punch 14 Mar. p. xiii. Harrods have French beachwear, cashmere co-ordinates.

1969 Sears, Roebuck Catal. Spring–Summer 143/2 (heading) Coordinates in cool cotton fabrics.

For instance, here is the term in a snippet from a 1959 ad (Evening Star, 2 April 1959, page A-10, via Chronicling America):

enter image description here

The abbreviation could have happened as soon as the word was understood, since co-ord is generally an abbreviation of co-ordinate. This snippet from a 1960 ad shows the adjective form abbreviated as "misses' co-ord. shirt and short sets" (from New York Times, 30 Apr 1960, p. 7, via ProQuest):

enter image description here

The earliest example I've found as a noun is from 1955, "CO-ORDS" in a list with "SKIRTS," "JUMPERS," and other items (The Atlanta Constitution, 24 Nov 1955, p. 2, via ProQuest):

enter image description here

That suggests there are earlier examples of both co-ordinates and, possibly, co-ords to find.

2
  • Thank you! Do you think the truncated form is uniquely US until much more recently?
    – graffe
    May 18 at 9:20
  • 1
    @graffe In British Newspaper Archive, I can find a 6 January 1967 ad in Bury Free Press for "CO-ORD SETS Skirt and Blouse," as well as a 9 October 1964 ad in Cheshire Observer for "dresses and co-ords." I can't see details (paywall), but there's at least some evidence it was across the pond in the 1960s. May 18 at 12:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.