Hi all
In the Danish newsgroup, about language one person claims that a brunette may have black hair, based on the fact that "brun" also means "dark". Another claims that a brunette has some sort of brown hair, and that a person with black hair cannot be called so.
What is right?

Bertel
http://bertel.lundhansen.dk / FIDUSO: http://fiduso.dk /
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Hi all In the Danish newsgroup, about language one person claims that a brunette may have black hair, based on ... has some sort of brown hair, and that a person with black hair cannot be called so. What is right?

Idiomatically I think there's usually a distinction made between "brunette" and "black-haired".
But as for "brun" meaning "dark": the person you've quoted seems to be ignoring the "-ette" suffix. "Brunette" is a dimunitive form of "brun", and the "dark" meaning in the word is modified by the suffix. "Brunette" thus means having "dark brown hair".
Brunettes have dark brown hair. Dark (brun-), but not entirely so (- ette).

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 21 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey to whhvs)
In the Danish newsgroup, about language one person claims that a brunette may have black hair, based on the fact ... has some sort of brown hair, and that a person with black hair cannot be called so. What is right?

The dictionary is your friend.
From MWCD10 at www.m-w.com:
Main Entry: 1bru·net
Variant(s): or bru·nette /brü-'net/
Function: noun
Date: circa 1539
a person having brown or black hair and usually a relatively dark complexion

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
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In the Danish newsgroup, about language one person claims that ... with black hair cannot be called so. What is right?

The dictionary is your friend. From MWCD10 at www.m-w.com: Main Entry: 1bru·net Variant(s): or bru·nette /brü-'net/ Function: noun Date: circa 1539 : a person having brown or black hair and usually a relatively dark complexion

The dictionary is not our friend. It suggests that "brunette" can mean "having black hair" but it says nothing about how many/few people use the word with that meaning, or how many/few people think the word has that meaning when they hear it. I for one would never use "brunette" about a black-haired woman, nor would I think a woman had black hair if she was described as "brunette". It'd be interesting to do a straw poll on this.

Adrian
The dictionary is your friend. From MWCD10 at www.m-w.com: Main Entry: 1bru·net Variant(s): or bru·nette /brü-'net/ Function: noun Date: circa 1539

The dictionary is not our friend. It suggests that "brunette" can mean "having black hair" but it says nothing about ... "brunette" about a black-haired woman, nor would I think a woman had black hair if she was described as "brunette".

Well, that's you. Unfortunately, you don't have quite the references as the dictionaries do.
It'd be interesting to do a straw poll on this.

Do it. I'd be interested in the results, not that they would change what's in the dictionaries. I'm sure that there are many people that would allow black-haired people to be included among the brunets.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
The dictionary is your friend. From MWCD10 at www.m-w.com: Main ... brown or black hair and usually a relatively dark complexion

The dictionary is not our friend. It suggests that "brunette" can mean "having black hair" but it says nothing about ... woman had black hair if she was described as "brunette". It'd be interesting to do a straw poll on this.

Here's a straw: I start from the phrase "blonde, brunette, or redhead." A brunette is any woman who isn't a blonde or a redhead.(1) I don't use brunette in relation to groups of people whose hair is invariably black, such as Africans or Chinese people.

(1) There are some shades that don't fit any of those three, but they're all lighter than brunette, which to me extends all the way to jet black.

Bob Lieblich
Whose hair is white (which category is that?)
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... It'd be interesting to do a straw poll on this.
More blonde, I would think.
m.
>
The choice has for a long time been one of

so for me, black hair goes in the brunette category.

Each can have a gamut of distinctions, such as flaxen, jet-black, or ginger.
Richard Maurer To reply, remove half
Sunnyvale, California of a homonym of a synonym for also.
Here's a straw: I start from the phrase "blonde, brunette, or redhead." A brunette is any woman who isn't a blonde or a redhead.(1) I don't use brunette in relation to groups of people whose hair is invariably black, such as Africans or Chinese people.

Invariably?
Not so sure about that. Maybe in Africa, but red or at least reddish/blondish hair is far from uncommon amongst Afro-Americans. And blonde hair crops up too...
And, some Japanese people have reddish hair too, that as far as I know doesn't come from a bottle.
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