AskDefine | Define pillow

Dictionary Definition

pillow n : a cushion to support the head of a sleeping person v : rest on or as if on a pillow; "pillow your head" [syn: rest]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

Old English pyle, pylw-, from West Germanic *pulwi-, borrowed from clasical Latin pulvīnus ‘cushion’. Cognate with Dutch peluw, German Pfühl.

Pronunciation

Noun

  1. A soft cushion used to support the head in bed.

Translations

soft cushion used to support the head in bed

Verb

  1. To rest as on a pillow.
    • 1942: She had pillowed her head on her arm — Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (Canongate 2006, p. 815-6)

Extensive Definition

A pillow is a large cushion support for the head, usually used while sleeping in a bed, or for the body as used on a couch or chair. There are also throw pillows (also called toss pillows), which are pillows that are purely decorative and not designed for support or comfort. Outside the USA these are generally considered a type of cushion, with the term pillow reserved for the pillows on a bed.
There also exist "novelty pillows", (which can be throw or body pillows), which are often designed as licensed products. Such pillows include the popular "Fish Pillow" - a large body pillow that is made to look like a trout. Pillows (cushions) were said to have special healing powers in the ancient Incan Empire. Ralli quilt pillows are used in Pakistan and India, colorfully embroidered and quilted by the artisan women.

History

Pillows were originally used mainly by the wealthy, and have been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. The difficulty of sophisticated dyes and sewing techniques lead to the development of pillows as an art form, with highly decorated pillows becoming prized commodities first in China and later in Medieval Europe. The Industrial Revolution saw the mass production of decorated textiles and decorated pillows. Traditional Chinese pillows are often hard boxes made from stone, wood, metal, or porcelain instead of stuffed fabric.

Construction and parts

Internally, a pillow comprises a filler made from foam, synthetic fills, feathers, or down. Traditionally straw was a filler, but this is uncomfortable and rarely used today. Feathers and down were the choice of the rich; these offered the advantage of softness and their ability to conform to shapes desired by the user, more so than foam or fibre pillows. There are currently hypoallergenic varieties of down pillows to allow people sensitive to down to enjoy the comfort of feather or down pillows. In Asia, buckwheat is a common filler, as are plastic imitations. Such pillows tend to be smaller than a standard pillow.
The fill is surrounded with a cover or shell made of cloth or silk, known as the pillow case or pillow slip. Some pillows often have a fancier cover called a sham which is closed on all sides and usually has a slit in the back through which the pillow is placed. Rectangular bed pillows usually do not have zippers, but instead have one side open all the time. It is recommended that all types of pillow covers be laundered periodically since they are the part that is in contact with a person's body. But even with regular washing, pillows tend to accumulate large amounts of dust and vast numbers of microbes among the fill and it is recommended that they be replaced every few years, especially for those with allergies.
The classic bed pillow shape is a square or golden rectangle with four corners reminiscent of the shape of the ears of a cat. Each corner of a pillow is referred to as a nib. When a pillow is placed on a flat surface the "poof point" is the crest of the pillow roundness.

Types

A pillow is designed to provide support and comfort to the body. There are three main types of pillows; Bed pillows, Orthopedic pillows and Decorative pillows, with some overlapping of use between these.

Beds

Bed pillows are usually rectangular in shape. They are common in these three sizes (in inches); Standard (20x26), Queen (20x30), King (20x36). These pillows are generally covered with a removable pillow case, which facilitate laundering, keeping the bedding fresh. The 'Oxford Size' used in many English speaking countries is 50cm x 75cm (20 x 30 inches), while the 'Continental Size' used in many parts of Continental Europe (i.e. not UK) is 66cm x 66cm (26 x 26 inches). When considered as a subset of Bed Pillow, Euro pillows finish 26x26 and older style Travel Pillows commonly finished 12x16.
Body pillows are as long as a full adult body, providing support to the head and neck at the top and to the knees and legs lower down. This type of pillow can be especially useful in providing support for those who sleep on their sides and for pregnant women.

Orthopedic

Neck pillows support the neck by providing a deep area for the head to rest and a supportive area to keep the neck in alignment with the spine while sleeping. These can also be known as cervical pillows.
Travel pillows provide support for the neck and head in a sitting position. Their "U" shape fits around the back of the neck and keeps the head from slipping into an uncomfortable and possibly harmful position during sleep. However, U-shaped pillows often force the head forwards creating neck stiffness.
Donut pillows are firm pillows shaped like a torus, with a space in the middle to alleviate pressure on the tailbone area while sitting. These pillows are used primarily by individuals who have suffered an injury to the tailbone area or who suffer pain from hemorrhoids or another ailment of the colon.
Lumbar pillows are designed to support the inward curve of the lower back, filling the space created between the lower back and the back of the chair when in a sitting position. These pillows are generally used to support the lower back while driving or sitting, such as in an office chair.

Decorative

Decorative Pillows serve a dual purpose. They likely have fancy cover material which serves to decorate the room where they are found. Since Decorative Textiles are commonly 54 inches in width, many decorative pillows finish about 17x17 inches. (54/3 = 18 less seam allowance) When used to decorate a fully made up bed, decorative pillows are likely thrown aside at bedtime, since they are not covered with a laundrable pillow case, thus, while found on the bed, they are primarily there for decoration, hence they fall under this category.
Decorative pillows are also found on furnishings in more public parts of the home, such as sofas, chairs and window seats. Here, their common use may overlap both orthopedic and bed pillows. For example, unless a person has some particular medical condition, they will likely use a handy decorative pillow for lumbar support, as needed, while seated on a sofa. Likewise, for the occasional nap, decorative pillows are handy for supporting the head or neck, even though they are not covered with a pillow case, as are bed pillows.
There are five common synonyms for decorative pillows which are descriptive of their use in the home. "Accent" Pillows emphasize or accent some other part of the home decor. The terms Sofa Pillow and Couch Pillow refer to the place these decorative pillows are likely found. The terms Toss pillow and Throw pillow refer to the way they generally arrive in their places.
Novelty Pillows are shaped like humorous objects (a banana, tweety bird, a human leg, a former president), and are meant to brighten up and add humor to a room or lounge area.
Floor Pillows are another subset of decorative pillows. These pillows often finish 26x26 inches (one half of the width of the textile, less seam allowance)

Miscellaneous Styles

  • A husband pillow (also known as a bedrest or a boyfriend pillow) is a a large, high-backed pillow with two "arms". It is used to prop the user upright while in bed or on the floor, as for reading or watching television.
  • [Takiya] is a pillow used as an arm rest in Pakistan.

Controversies

  • One notable, yet rare, risk of using pillows is the act of 'self-smothering'. A person can actually roll from the side-position in the midst of sleep and lie face down on the pillow. Over time, the build-up of carbon dioxide and consistent loss of oxygen would cause the person to drift into a critical oxygen-depleted state and, if not stirred or changed in sleeping position, suffocate due to the body's sustained inability to receive necessary amounts of oxygen.

References

External links

pillow in Aymara: Ch'ijma
pillow in Azerbaijani: Yastıq (yataq dəsti)
pillow in Czech: Polštář
pillow in German: Kissen
pillow in Spanish: Almohada
pillow in Esperanto: Kuseno
pillow in French: Oreiller
pillow in Indonesian: Bantal
pillow in Italian: Cuscino
pillow in Hebrew: כרית
pillow in Dutch: Kussen
pillow in Dutch Low Saxon: Kussing
pillow in Japanese: 枕
pillow in Norwegian: Pute
pillow in Polish: Poduszka
pillow in Portuguese: Travesseiro
pillow in Quechua: Sawna
pillow in Russian: Подушка
pillow in Sicilian: Chiumazzu
pillow in Simple English: Pillow
pillow in Finnish: Tyyny
pillow in Swedish: Kudde
pillow in Turkish: Yastık
pillow in Ukrainian: Подушка
pillow in Chinese: 枕頭

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

afford support, air mattress, back, back up, bear, bear up, bedding, blubber, bolster, bolster up, brace, breeze, buoy up, butter, buttress, carry, clay, cradle, crutch, cushion, dough, down, eiderdown, feather bed, feathers, fleece, floss, flue, fluff, foam, give support, hold, hold up, innerspring mattress, kapok, keep afloat, keep up, lend support, litter, mainstay, maintain, mat, mattress, pad, pallet, plush, prop, pudding, puff, putty, reinforce, rubber, rug, satin, shore, shore up, shoulder, silk, sleeping bag, springs, stay, subsidize, subvention, support, sustain, swansdown, thistledown, underbed, underbedding, underbrace, undergird, underlie, underpin, underset, upbear, uphold, upkeep, velvet, wax, wool, zephyr
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1