Estonian names for a flat cap

Keywords: Estonian, Estonian dialects, etymology, Swedish loanwords

The Estonian language knows several names for a flat cap: there are soni and the colloquial soge, in dialects we also find, e.g., kepka ~ kipka, hurask ~ vurask and keps. All those terms are loanwords in Estonian: soni is of (Baltic) German and soge of German origin, whereas kepka ~ kipka and hurask ~ vurask have been borrowed from Russian. The dialect word keps ~ käps, which has been recorded from three parishes (Muhu, Kihnu and Häädemeeste) is a Swedish loanword. The Swedish keps ‘a soft rounded hat with a rather wide top, especially in the front, and a brim mostly covered with the same fabric, an (English) sports hat’ is an English loanword, borrowed from the plural form caps. As the first Swedish use has been recorded in 1910–1912, the Estonian loanword must be relatively recent.

In Estonian dialects the flat cap has also been referred to as lodu, lodumüts or lodukübar, losumüts, lotsmüts, lottmüts, lotumüts, ludumüts, lätumüts, lättmüts, läsumüts. All those names are motivated by the low and soft form of the hat. The names lodu– and ludumüts have also been used in standard Estonian, while ludumüts may as well refer to a beret. With time, ludumüts seems to have lost its ‘flat cap’ meaning in standard Estonian.


Meeli Sedrik (b. 1968), MA, Institute of the Estonian Language, Senior Lexicographer (Roosikrantsi 6, 10119 Tallinn),