top of page
  • Christine Bernard

The etymology of the word shampoo



I remember laughing at this word when I was a kid, and now, as a mum to a four year old, it's happening all over. "Poo?" he yells with excitement. "You want to wash my hair with POO?"

It got me thinking, why is it called shampoo? Why on earth would you call something that is supposed to clean your hair with a name that's really not clean at all.

Well, of course, that's because it wasn't named by a four year old. Instead, the word 'shampoo' goes back to the Hindi term champoo, which means 'kneading' or 'massaging'.

Back then, however, to shampoo yourself didn't mean you were cleaning just your hair. It meant you were getting a therapeutic massage of the scalp and the body. The word only changed its meaning in the late 1800s where it became solely used for hair washing.

Now, if you want my son to give you a different answer, he probably will.

This little deep dive into the etymology of the word shampoo led me down a path that extends beyond mere linguistics. It got me thinking about the broader world of hair care: what works best for our hair, what doesn't, and whether we might be washing our hair too often. Have you ever considered the idea of giving up shampoo altogether or perhaps already tried it? Well, you're not alone in your curiosity.

The thought of completely abandoning shampoo might initially sound daunting. I mean, who can imagine not washing their hair? But the more I looked into this concept, I couldn't help but wonder about the potential benefits, not only for our hair but also for our overall well-being. So, if you've ventured into the world of "no-poo," I'd love to hear from you.

For now, I'll stick to washing my hair. I'm already a mum-mess, and having clean hair makes me feel a little more human.

If you love words the way I do, you might be interested in some more etymology.

Love words? You probably love books then. Go on, take a look at mine!

16 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page