The picture in my previous post which hilariously suggested "bananas" rather than "bandanas" as suitable face masks may have some of you wondering where the word bandana comes from.
We owe bandana, like some other fabric words (see also calico), to the highly coloured cloths that Europeans encountered when they arrived in India. It came from a Hindi word designating a tie-dyed silk handkerchief, and probably came into English via Portuguese. Of course nowadays bandanas are much more likely to be made of cotton and are printed rather than tie-dyed.
Although "bandanna" is, surprisingly, the only spelling listed in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the two spellings, bandanna and bandana, are pretty much neck-and-neck in American English, and "bandana" is much more frequent in English over all. It is the first spelling given in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
Banana, meanwhile, also came into English by way of Portuguese, but is originally from the name for the fruit in the West African language Wolof.
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