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
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."