whisk / (h)wisk/ • v. 1. [tr.] take or move (someone or something) in a particular direction suddenly and quickly: his jacket was whisked away for dry cleaning. ∎ move (something) through the air with a light, sweeping movement: hippopotamuses spread their scents by whisking their tails. 2. [tr.] beat or stir (a substance, esp. cream or eggs) with a light, rapid movement. 3. brush with a whisk broom. • n. 1. a utensil for whipping eggs or cream. 2. short for whisk broom. 3. (also fly whisk) a bunch of grass, twigs, or bristles for removing dust or flies. 4. [in sing.] a brief, rapid action or movement: a whisk around St. Basil's cathedral.
Related to the standing collar and the ruff, the whisk was an especially stiff and ornate neck decoration worn during the first decades of the seventeenth century. Like many fashion trends of this period, the whisk originated in Spain, and evolved from the golilla. The golilla was a collar of stiffened fabric or cardboard that was trimmed in lace and worn with another fabric collar. Adapted for use in England, Germany, and Flanders (present-day Belgium and Netherlands), the whisk was a wide standing collar that was often held in place by a wire framework and made of ornate lace or scalloped fabric. The whisk was rounded in back of the head and had a straight edge that stood over either shoulder.
Ornate almost to the point of excess, whisks represented the high point of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth-century trend toward ornament. They made moving the head uncomfortable, and were often worn with another collar, adding to the difficulty. By midcentury they had been replaced by the more practical standing and falling bands.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
Yarwood, Doreen. The Encyclopedia of World Costume. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1978.
[See also Volume 3, Seventeenth Century: Falling and Standing Bands ]
Hence whisker (-ER1) †fan, †switch, (dial.) feather brush XV; hair on the face, †moustache XVI.