a piece of jewellery that a woman wears on top of her head on formal occasions. It looks like a small crown.
Origin and usage
Tiara is a Greek word whose original meaning was ‘headdress of Persian kings’. It dates back to the 1550s in English but did not come to describe the jewelled headwear of Western royalty until the 18th century.
Tiara refers to a jewelled headpiece that a woman wears for important formal occasions. A tiara usually looks like a small crown and is often worn by royalty or nobility.
The largest collection of tiaras in the world is said to belong to Queen Elizabeth II. She frequently wears a tiara on state occasions or to formal events, and also lends them out to female members of her extended family, particularly when they get married.
The royal families of Sweden, Spain and Denmark also have remarkable tiara collections. Many historic tiaras are now housed in museums and galleries all over the world.
Traditionally, a tiara was reserved for queens, empresses, princesses and other noblewomen. However, the tiara has become a kind of fashion accessory that is often worn by commoners. Socialites and heiresses sometimes wear tiaras to formal events, and many ordinary women also wear tiaras on special occasions like weddings, balls, pageants or galas.
While the tiaras of the monarchy are usually made of gold, platinum, diamonds and precious gemstones, commoners’ tiaras worn as a fashion accessory are typically made of metal, plastic, crystals, rhinestones and semi-precious gems.
“The Queen is the only person who can put on a tiara with one hand, while walking down stairs.”
“I had taught myself that a human being might as well look for diamond tiaras in the gutter as for rewards and punishments that were fair.”
(Kurt Vonnegut Jr.)
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.
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