french pleat

Toque (French)

A toque is a type of hat with a narrow brim or no brim at all. They were popular from the 13th to the 16th century in Europe, especially France.


The word Toque is Arabic "طوق" for "Round" and "طاقية" "Taqia" for "Hat" originally for something "Round" that has an opening. The word has been known in English since 1505. It came through the Medieval French toque (15th century), presumably by the way of the [|Spanish]] toca "woman's headdress", from Arabic *taqa'طاقة' 'Opening'.

Culinary use

A toque blanche (French for "white hat"), often shortened to toque, is a tall, round, pleated, starched white hat worn by chefs. The many folds on a toque blanche are believed to signify the many ways that an egg can be cooked. Many toques have exactly 100 pleats.

The toque most likely originated as the result of the gradual evolution of head coverings worn by cooks throughout the centuries. Their roots are sometimes traced to the casque a meche (stocking cap) worn by 18th-century French chefs. The colour of the casque a meche denoted the rank of the wearer. Boucher, the personal chef of the French statesman Talleyrand, was the first to insist on white toques for sanitary reasons. The modern toque is popularly believed to have originated with the famous French chefs Marie-Antoine Carême and Auguste Escoffier.



The pleated, low, round hat worn in French universities—the equivalent of the mortarboard or tam at British and American universities—is also called a toque.


In the Napoleonic era, the French first empire replaced the coronets of traditional ('royal') heraldry with a rigorously standardized system (as other respects of 'Napoleonic' coats of arms) of toques, reflecting the rank of the bearer. Thus a Napoleonic Duke used a toque with 7 ostrich feathers and 3 lambrequins, a Count a toque with 5 feathers and 2 lambrequins, a Baron 3 feathers and one lambrequin, a Knight only one ostrich feather (see Nobility of the First French Empire).

There is also an unproven theory that the design of the papal tiara would have been based on a toque.


Toque is also used for a hard type hat or helmet, worn for riding, especially in equestrian sports, often black and covered with black velvet.

Canadian variant

In Canadian English, "toque" is also a common alternative spelling of tuque (tuk), a knit woollen winter hat, originally worn by French-Canadians but now a staple of the Canadian winter wardrobe. This fashion originated when coureurs des bois kept their woollen nightcaps on for warmth during cold winter days. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary regards the use of toque for this hat to be assimilated from the etymologically unrelated French word tuque.

Sources and references

  • Katherine Barber, editor (2004). Canadian Oxford Dictionary, second edition. Toronto, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-541816-6. — "Toque" is a main headword, "tuque" considered a variant spelling.
  • EtymologyOnLine
  • Napoleonic heraldry

External links

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