AskDefine | Define girdle

Dictionary Definition



1 an encircling or ringlike structure
2 a band of material around the waist that strengthens a skirt or trousers [syn: cincture, sash, waistband, waistcloth]
3 a woman's close-fitting foundation garment [syn: corset, stays]


1 cut a girdle around so as to kill by interrupting the circulation of water and nutrients; "girdle the plant" [syn: deaden]
2 put a girdle on or around; "gird your loins" [syn: gird]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English gyrdel



  1. That which girds, encircles, or encloses; a circumference
  2. A belt; especially, a belt, sash, or article of dress encircling the body usually at the waist, often used to support stockings or hosiery.
  3. The zodiac; also, the equator.
  4. The line of greatest circumference of a brilliant-cut diamond, at which it is grasped by the setting.
  5. A thin bed or stratum of stone.
  6. The clitellus of an earthworm.
  7. A griddle.


That which girds, encircles, or encloses; a circumference
A belt; especially, a belt, sash, or article of dress encircling the body usually at the waist, often used to support stockings or hosiery
  • Kurdish:
he zodiac; also, the equator
he line of greatest circumference of a brilliant-cut diamond, at which it is grasped by the setting
A thin bed or stratum of stone
The clitellus of an earthworm
A griddle


  1. To gird, encircle, or constrain by such means.
  2. To kill or stunt a tree by removing or inverting a ring of bark.

Extensive Definition

''This article is about the item of clothing. In the Scots language, girdle refers to a cooking griddle. In malacology a girdle is part of a chiton.
The word girdle originally meant a belt. In modern English the term "girdle" is most commonly used for a form of women's foundation wear that replaced the corset in popularity.


Historically and in anthropology, the girdle can be a scanty belt-shaped textile for men and/or women, worn on its own, not holding a larger garment in place, and less revealing than the loin-cloth, as was used by Minoan pugilists.
Constructed of elasticized fabric and sometimes fastened with hook and eye closures, the modern girdle is designed to enhance a woman's figure. Most open-bottom girdles extend from the waist to the upper thighs. In the 1960s, these models fell from favor and were to a great extent replaced by the panty girdle. The panty girdle resembles a tight pair of athletic shorts. Both models of girdles usually include suspender clips to hold up stockings.
Girdles were considered essential garments by many women from approximately 1910 to the late 1960s. They created a rigid, controlled figure that was seen as eminently respectable and modest. They were also crucial to the couturier Christian Dior's 1947 New Look, which featured a voluminous skirt and a narrow, nipped-in waistline, also known as a wasp waist.
Later in the 1960s, the girdle was generally supplanted by pantyhose. Pantyhose replaced girdles for many women who had used the girdle essentially as a means of holding up sheer nylon stockings. Those who want more control purchase "control top" pantyhose. Many women forswear girdles, stockings, and pantyhose entirely.
Girdles and "body shapers" are still sold to women who want to shape their figure with a garment. Some of these garments incorporate a brassiere and thus become functionally equivalent to a corset. However, they do not incorporate boning and hence do not produce the constricted waistline characteristic of Victorian-era corsets.

Girdle in literature

In literature, girdles are often portrayed as magical, giving power and strength if worn by men, and protection if worn by women. Many scriptures in the Bible point to the use of a girdle as a means of protection. Ishtar, a Babylonian Goddess, wore a fertility girdle, which, when it was removed, rendered the universe infertile. Hercules wrestled with the Amazon queen for her girdle in his Greek myth. Aphrodite and Venus also wore girdles associated with lechery in later poetry.
For men a girdle was often used to hold weapons. It also gave them freedom to move in a fight, unlike other types of clothing. both of these are thought to carry the connection of power to the man's girdle in literature. For example, Odysseus wears a girdle which allows him to swim for three days straight, and a girdle worn by Thor doubles his strength.
Later on, for women, the girdle became a sign of virginity, and was often considered to have magical properties. Monsters and all types of evil are recorded as being subdued by girdles in literature, a famous one being the dragon slain by Saint George. Marriage ceremonies continued this tradition of girdles symbolizing virginity by having the husband take the wife's girdle, and prostitutes were forbidden to wear them by law in historic France. Often in literature, women are portrayed as safe from sexual or other attack when wearing a girdle, but suddenly vulnerable if it is missing or stolen.
Non-clothing uses in literature include Tolkien's "Girdle of Melian," a magical, protective "wall" surrounding an elven kingdom, and the metaphorical "girdle of righteousness" mentioned in the Bible, representing righteousness as a protection as well as something to be worn constantly.
The twentieth century women's girdle attracts various references in literature, often in a disparaging way. For example, Marilyn French in her classic book, "The Women's Room", is very critical not only of the girdle itself, but also of the virtual compulsion to wear one, a compulsion which existed until the late 1960s. In John Masters's "Bhowani Junction", once the mixed race Victoria Jones decides to opt for an Indian rather than British persona, she rejects her girdle as a "western garment".


Like its predecessor garment, the corset, the girdle attracts a degree of eroticism. Some men like to wear female girdles, and/or find women attractive in them. In addition, the Australian feminist writer, Beatrice Faust, in her book "Women, Sex and Pornography" refers to a "slight but sustained feeling of arousal" when wearing a "moderately tight" girdle. The subject is discussed in "Zona: the Girdle Zone".


In American football, a girdle is a piece of clothing that is worn under the football pants to keep the hip, thigh, and tailbone pads in place, making the process of putting on the tight football pants easier. Older girdles resembled chaps, in that they covered only the front of the leg with pads, that snapped on. Modern girdles are essentially a tight pair of compression shorts with pockets for the pads. The girdle was also used in the mesoamerican ballgame and is used in hockey (NHL)


As a liturgical vestment, the girdle, also known as a cincture, is a long, rope-like cord tied around the waist over the alb.


External links

girdle in German: Hüfthalter
girdle in Esperanto: Gaino
girdle in French: Gaine (lingerie)
girdle in Italian: Guaina (abbigliamento)
girdle in Japanese: ガードル
girdle in Swedish: Gördel

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Mystik tape, Scotch tape, adhesive tape, advocate, alpenstock, anklet, arm, armlet, athletic supporter, back, backbone, backing, band, bandage, bandeau, batten, bearer, begird, belt, belt in, bend, beset, bind, bind up, bra, brace, bracelet, bracer, bracket, brassiere, bundle, buttress, cane, carrier, cellophane tape, cervix, chain, cinch, cincture, cingulum, circle, circuit, circuiteer, circulate, circumambulate, circummigrate, circumnavigate, circumvent, close the circle, cloth tape, collar, collarband, come full circle, compass, corselet, corset, crook, crutch, cycle, describe a circle, do up, earring, ecliptic, encincture, encircle, encompass, engird, ensphere, equator, fascia, fillet, finger ring, flank, foundation garment, friction tape, fulcrum, gird, girdle the globe, girt, girth, go about, go around, go round, go the round, great circle, guy, guywire, gyre, hem, hoop, jock, jockstrap, lace, lap, lash, lath, leash, ligula, ligule, list, loop, mainstay, maintainer, make a circuit, masking tape, mast, neck, neckband, necklace, nose ring, orbit, plank, plastic tape, prop, quoit, reinforce, reinforcement, reinforcer, rest, resting place, revolve, ribband, ribbon, rigging, ring, rope, round, sash, shoulder, shred, shroud, skirt, slat, slip, spill, spine, spiral, splice, spline, sprit, staff, standing rigging, stave, stay, stays, stick, stiffener, strake, strap, strengthener, strip, strop, support, supporter, surround, sustainer, swaddle, swathe, taenia, tape, tape measure, tapeline, ticker tape, tie, tie up, truss, twine around, upholder, waistband, walking stick, wheel, wire, wrap, wrap up, wreathe, wreathe around, wristband, wristlet, zodiac, zone
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