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clothes press

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:13 pm
by dante
Hello everyone,

Is "clothes press" a rather obsolete term for a wardrobe or clothes closet?

Thanks for the help

Re: clothes press

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:32 pm
by christinecornwall
I have never heard this used in the Northeast US. We would say closet, dresser, wardrobe etc.
If I didn't look it up, I would have assumed it to be another word for iron.

Re: clothes press

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:50 pm
by Bobinwales
Yes Dante, it is an obsolete term for somewhere to keep clothes. At a rough guess 100 years obsolete!

Re: clothes press

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 7:24 pm
by dante
Thank you for the answers christine and BobinWales.

Re: clothes press

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:33 pm
by JANE DOErell
I never heard of ''clothes press'' either but a quick Google pulls it up in shopping, persons apparently are still trying to sell them. Further down the page is descriptions and definitions.

Re: clothes press

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:39 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Dante, We Wordwizards like to quickly resolve pressing problems.

Ken – July 25, 2010

Re: clothes press

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:28 pm
by christinecornwall
Dante, We Wordwizards like to quickly resolve pressing problems.
That joke needs a little more steam.....;-)

Re: clothes press

Posted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:40 am
by dante
And some of WWs occasionally enjoy poking fun at poor ESL learners :)

Re: clothes press

Posted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:14 am
by Ken Greenwald
Dante, The only CLOTHES PRESS I'm familiar with is the one that dry cleaning and laundering businesses use for pressing clothes. It’s that ironing board sandwich affair which gives off a shot of steam (a la Christine) when the top portion comes down to do its press.

After supplying my previous wise-ass posting, I actually looked it up and found the following (however, they really should say something like, ‘rarely used today‘, but they don't):

Here's the short and sweet definition offered by the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY:

CLOTHES-PRESS [[CLOTHES PRESS, CLOTHESPRESS]] [from PRESS, which was a cupboard for clothes (1371)].

1) A receptacle for clothes; properly a shelved recess or movable chest or case in which clothes are kept folded; but also sometimes applied to a wardrobe in which they are hung up unfolded.
<1713 “When she heard your voice, she ran into the clothspress.”—The Wonder by S. Centlivre, I, i.>

<1822 “Furnished with clothes-presses, and mighty chests of drawers.”—Bracebridge Hall (1849) by Washington Irving, page 456>
2) An apparatus for pressing various textile fabrics.

The DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN REGIONAL ENGLISH goes into excruciating detail on CLOTHESPRESS in the equivalent of a full 8½ x 11 page. But I won't subject you to that kind of pain:


1) [1773]: A piece of furniture for storing clothing: A wardrobe, shelved cabinet, or chest of drawers. [[Its precise meaning varied from state to state. In some places it contained both drawers and hanging space; in others it just contained shelves on which clothes were placed flat; and in some cases it was built into the wall. But today it is mostly considered old-fashioned]]
<1845 “There was nothin~ in the appearance of the room to afford any clue to the character of the house. It was large and dreary, with heavy black rafters crossing it. In a corner stood a great lumbering clothes press, and a chest bound with iron bands.”—United States Democratic Review, Vol.17, Issue 90, December>[[from archived source]]

2) [1903] Transferred : A clothes closet [[‘small dark from where clothing is hung’; ‘a built-in space in a room for hanging clothes.’]]
<1980 “My 87 year old mother, who is from upstate New York and originally from the Hudson River area, still calls a closet a ‘clothes press.’”— Article Letters, New York Times>

Ken – July 25, 2010 (hard-pressed to say any more than I have)

Re: clothes press

Posted: Mon Jul 26, 2010 2:13 pm
by Wizard of Oz
.. what goes around comes back to where it started .. well generally speaking .. my acquaintence with press as a cupboard stems mainly from hearing linen press .. so I dutifully googled it to see what else I could reveal and lo and behold Ken there you were all googled out and ready to be clicked .. back in Nov 2004 you answered an enquiry from Hannah C from Exmouth WA, Aus .. and put a Kiwi in his place .. but the most telling part was end of the thread ..
linen press
Posted on: 28 Nov 2004 07:13

Yes, you ex-pressed the material well, Ken.

Reply from XXXX
.. followed by ..
linen press
Posted on: 28 Nov 2004 07:27

And you squeezed it for all it was worth, XXXX.

Reply from YYYY
... now I wonder who those two could be ??????

WoZ totally impressed

Re: clothes press

Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:53 am
by christinecornwall
I'm imPRESSed with how long you kept the press bit up!!

Re: clothes press

Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:27 pm
by Edwin F Ashworth
I suppose that the authorities on antique-furniture terminology (if not antique furniture terminology) would be antiques experts rather than linguists.
Without citing references, I'll say that I've come across two very distinct types of case-pieces (furniture with a carcase) labelled as linen presses:

(a) a wardrobe usually with one, two or three courses of drawers under the cupboard section/s; the term seems to be far more common in the US than the UK

(b) a lowish chest-of-drawers with an actual mechanical press bolted on top; this usage is far less common - a trawl through Google Images will turn up one or two examples eventually.