Where does the word “shako” come from and What does shako mean in German?

This time our modern word “shako” shows evidence of Hungarian influence, even though the ultimate derivation seems to be from the Germans.

Starting with the German Zacke, “a peak,” the trail leads next to the Hungarian csakos suveg, “a peaked cap.”

This became abbreviated to csako, which was then taken into French as schako, and back into German as Tschako, still with the meaning of “a pointed cap.”

From the French, we took our word, dropping the c, but retaining the meaning.

This was applied to a form of military headgear, which did, then, come to a point.

Proving to be rather impractical as an item of battle dress, the point was flattened off, until now the military shako is a flat-topped hat best described as a truncated cone.

The one-time peak is retained only symbolically by affixing a pompon or a plume at the front of the hat.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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