Synonym for "American", another variant is "USAn". A semantic dance around the obvious.

A merkin is also a wig for the genital regions. They were popular in Elizabethan times, and were available in many different patterns and colours. Yes, really. I remember seeing an article in a newspaper in late 1999, which claimed that merkins were due to make a comeback. It had an attractive spread of assorted merkins, in pink, blue, green, Union Jack pattern, Stars and Stripes, etc etc . . . .

Very exciting. Ahem.

A pubic wig worn to conceal a dearth, or simulate an abundance, of pubic hair. The term is derived from Malkin, the Middle English term for a lower-class woman or a Mop. Over time, Merkins have been employed by:

  • Prostitutes working prior to the advent of penicillin. Those who had contracted syphilis were treated with mercury, leading to hair loss. A Merkin would conceal their lack of hair, along with the chancres characteristic of the disease. Pubic hair was also shorn to counter the effects of body lice.
  • Stage actors; either dressing as women in the service of burlesque or playing female roles out of necessity.
  • Performance artists or individuals seeking to distinguish themselves by donning an archaic accessory. An exotic dancer might employ a merkin to appear fully nude, without violating local decency laws.

Merkin is also a British slang term used to indicate a resident of the United States. It is thought to be a mocking imitation of the way some US natives pronounce the word "American".

Mer"kin (?), n.

Originally, a wig; afterwards, a mop for cleaning cannon.


© Webster 1913.

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