No one is sure where the name “beanie hat” came from, but there are several theories.
Some think it’s from the slang term “bean” referring to the head. Others point out that the button that was commonly found on top of beanie hats a long time ago was about the size of a bean.
Academics like to think the name beanie hat might have come from the term bejaunus, which means “yellow bill”. It referred to a cap worn at universities during medieval times, which may have evolved into the popular college beanie hats seen even here in the U.S. At one point, bejaunus became beanus. I guess that’s pretty close to “beanie”.
It seems the name beanie wasn’t used much until the 1950’s. Then a popular cartoon popped up featuring a character who always wore a beanie hat with a propeller on top. He went by the name of Beany and embarked on a series of adventures with his friend Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent.
Beanie hat is just one term for the type of hat we’re talking about, though. The basic knit cap is also known by other names around the world and in different cultures. Other names for the beanie hat include skully, tuque, watch cap, calot, skull cap, dinky, dink, toboggan cap, stocking cap, sock caps, ski cap, sipple cap, chook cap, monkey cap, and, simply, knit cap.
I have to confess, I only knew of a few of the above names, and those I thought were actually a bit different from a beanie hat. (For example, I always thought a stocking cap had a long tapered tassel on the top. However, it seems in certain places a stocking cap actually is the same as a beanie hat.)
How about you? What did you call your knit hat grow up?