GOWN, properly the term for a loose outer garment formerly worn by either sex but now generally for that worn by women. While "dress" is the usual English word, except in such combinations as "tea-gown," "dressing-gown" and the like, where the original loose flowing nature of the "gown" is referred to, "gown" is the common American word. "Gown" comes from the O. Fr. goune or gonne. The word appears in various Romanic languages, cf. Ital. gonna. The medieval Lat. gunna is used of a garment of skin or fur. A Celtic origin has been usually adopted, but the Irish, Gaelic and Manx words are taken from the English. Outside the ordinary use of the word, "gown" is the name for the distinctive robes worn by holders of particular offices or by members of particular professions or of universities, &c. (see Robes).
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