Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 08:36:24 +0000

From: Victoria Neufeldt vneufeldt[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]M-W.COM

Subject: Re: Widow's Weeds

I was surprised to learn that "widow's weeds" was unknown to people.

Although it certainly isn't as common as it was, and the custom of

wearing mourning is no longer widespread, I would not be surprised to

encounter it in everyday text.

To check this out, I went through the Merriam citation files for

"weed(s)" -- which was quite a chore, given all the different

meanings. I found cites as recent as 1993. Excerpts from a few

cites (including one from _Time_ with a totally contemporary context):

Conor Cruise O'Brian, writing in _The Atlantic_, Jan, 1993: ". . . were

a bit cynical about those widow's weeds and about some of the

contexts in which she paraded them."

Francine Russo, in _The Village Voice_, Sept 28, 1993: "The three

grieving Theban widows, who set the plot in motion with a plea to

Athenian Duke Theseus for redress, trail black weeds worthy of a

Victorian bordello."

Eudora Welty, _One Writer's Beginnings_, 1983: "At that point, Mrs.

McWillie, that stern fourth-grade teacher, would let her children

close their books, and she would move, broad in widow's weeds like

darkness itself, to the window and by what light there was she would

stand and read aloud 'The King of the Golden River.' "

"The Secret Weapon," _Time Magazine_, Oct 14, 1985: "Few outside the

Kremlin knew if Yuri Adropov even had a wife until Tatyana, dressed

in widow's weeds, appeared at her husband's bier."