Clothes Horse

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Mynx | 15:30 Fri 15th Apr 2005 | Phrases & Sayings
6 Answers

Why do we call a clothes drying rack a clothes horse?

Is it something obvious or does it have a historical origin?


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clothes Look up clothes at
O.E. cla�as "clothes," originally pl. of cla� "cloth," which acquired a new pl., cloths, 19c. to distinguish it from this word. Clothespin is from 1846; clothing is from c.1200; clothier is from 1362. Clothes-horse "upright wooden frame for hanging clothes to dry" is from 1806; figurative sense of "person whose sole function seems to be to show off clothes" is 1850.
The basic reason is that such a clothes-drying device stands on four legs and its purpose is to bear or carry...just as a 'real' horse's purpose is. 
So it could very well have been called a 'clothes donkey' then Quizzy!
Absolutely, S...or mule, camel, elephant or other beast of burden. 'Horse' is the obvious north-European choice. (Actually, it might be of interest to discover what these things actually are called, say, in the Arab world. I love the idea of a "dish-dasha jamal"...or "robe-camel"!)

What about a clothes maiden?  I've Googled, but I can't find an origin for that one!

'Clothes-maiden' is from Lancashire dialect, having made its earliest recorded appearance - in the form 'clothes-maid' - in 1853 in Mrs Gaskell's novel, 'Cranford'. In early Victorian days, I suppose, maids were considered often enough as little better than 'beasts of burden', too!

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