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The Glossary

Feeling Overwhelmed? Check the glossary!

pidgeon peas

The extremely tight curls at the base of the skull or back of the neck.

i.e.: "Don't forget to hot comb those pidgeon peas."

The kitchen

The base of the skull or back of one's neck.

i.e. "It's been so long since she had a perm, she got pidgeon peas in her kitchen."


Another word for a relaxer, a process, or hair straightening chemicals. Also referred to as 'perm,' this chemical compound is meant to get the hair straight. If left on too long it leaves burns.  In the 1950s and prior, some Black men wore the "conk" which had the same outcome.

'Who done it'

As in "looking like" meaning the person looks a mess...a hot mess.


A relaxer. See permanent.

The medical term for "bald." Alopecia is a disease that affects the ability to grow hair. There can be many reasons for it and different types. 


A word used to describe hair with tight coils and kinks. At one time it had a negative connotation, but many women are "happy to be nappy" these days.

pelo malo

A Spanish phrase meaning 'bad hair.' In the Dominican Republic, this phrase is used to demean people whose hair is more African. 

Indian in my family

In the early 20th century black folks would explain their 'good hair' by saying they had "Indian in their family."


Do you have a question or comment about the Black Hair Glossary of terms from HairStory: Reclaiming Our Crown? Is there a term or phrase that you would like to contribute?  Let us know!

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